Two Impressions – Same Meeting

On Friday, my email inbox received the weekly newsletters from Supervisors Bill Campbell and Patricia Bates. Their lead stories presented two conflicting perspectives of the status of the county budget picture for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012.

On Wednesday, Andrew Galvin reported for the Orange County Register: County on track to make fiscal year budget targets.

The county government should finish its fiscal year in June with more than $200 million in reserves, even after the sheriff’s department takes $11.4 million from reserves to cover a shortfall caused by a state law placing inmates in county jails to ease prison overcrowding, officials said Tuesday.

Budget Director Frank Kim told the county’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that the sheriff’s department is running a roughly $20 million budget deficit because the county is having to house more state prisoners, cutting into the  revenue it gets from the federal government to house those in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Other than the sheriff’s department’s financial woes, the county’s financial situation is stable, Kim said. The Auditor-Controller’s office has forecast the county will spend $23 million less than budgeted in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, he told the board.

OC Supervisor Pat Bates - Photo: Chris Prevatt, TheLiberalOC

Supervisor Bates presented a very different outlook on the county’s financial position in her newsletter.

Total expenditures are tracking slightly over budget by 1.78%, with revenues coming in at 2% below budget for property taxes and 3.85% below projections for General Purpose Revenues, while Public Safety Sales Tax and Health and Welfare Realignment revenues are tracking at 2.35% and 5.17% above projections, respectively. These variances are due to timing of the County’s expenses and revenue streams from State and Federal funding streams.

OC Supervisor Bill Campbell - Photo: Chris Prevatt

Supervisor Campbell wrote in his newsletter:

Overall, the budget continues to trend in a positive direction with general revenues, expenses, Net County Cost, and sales tax revenue performing better than projected. In addition, the report forecasted a potential Fund Balance Available (FBA) for the start of the next fiscal year. Currently, staff is projecting an FBA of $23 million. The Third Quarter Budget report is usually used as a true-up period in the fiscal year. The recommended actions for this period included a draw-down of General Fund reserves to support departments and agencies meeting their requirements for the rest of the current fiscal year.

I have to wonder if Supervisor Bates was at the same meeting with Supervisor Campbell and Budget Director Frank Kim.

To review the staff presentation on the Third Quarter Budget report, please click here. To read the report in its entirety, please click here.