El Dorado County supervisors approve 2019-20 budget
The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a $688.7 million budget for 2019-20 on Monday, June 17.
Adoption of the final budget will be in September after the books are closed in August.
Total General Fund appropriations are $313.2 million which is $18.4 million more in the new fiscal year.
The 2019-20 budget represents spending $56.5 million more in the coming fiscal year than the 2018-19 fiscal year and includes funding for the public safety facility, jail expansion project and special revenue funds.
The majority of growth in spending is due to the impact of labor negotiations related to salary increases and the rise in CalPERS retirement costs, county officials said.
The new budget includes adding 7.05 full-time employees to the county’s existing staff of 1,879.02.
In terms of functional areas where the money will go, health and human services will receive 36%, land use and development services 28%, law and justice 25% and general government 11%.
Funding priorities in the new budget included a contribution to capital reserves of $5 million; purchase of a new voting system and establishing vote centers; continued use of the FENIX software system; implementation of the vegetation management ordinance; putting into effect negotiated labor agreements and progress in providing competitive wages to employees; addressing homelessness in the county by providing funding for a homelessness coordinator contract; and funding for other programs in planning, IT and public safety.
The approved budget also fully funds the General Fund contingency at $5.45 million to provide resources in the event of unforeseen fiscal issues; General Reserves at $9 million to provide resources in the event of significant emergency situations; and the designation for capital projects reserves with an additional $5 million.
If the county ends the current fiscal year with a higher-than-anticipated fund balance, the recommended priority will be to set aside those funds to offset CalPERS increases and/or other post-employment benefits liabilities in accordance with the board’s budgeting practice.
However, county staff forecast a budget shortfall as much as $6.2 million in 2020-21 up to $20.6 million by 2023-24 because revenues are not keeping up with expenses.
Looking ahead some of the more significant future costs facing the county include CalPERS increases averaging $4 million per year; the public safety facility ongoing cost of $2.3 million beginning in fiscal year 2021-22; the jail expansion cost of $1 million beginning in fiscal year 2021-22; deferred maintenance of the Placerville jail in fiscal year 2019-20 at $830,000; deferred maintenance of the Placerville jail in fiscal year 2020-21 through 2024-25 at $2 million; deferred maintenance of the South Lake Tahoe jail for five years at $1.5 million; and the Shakori Department of Transportation facility in South Lake Tahoe at $2 million.
At the conclusion of the budget presentation Chief Administrative Officer Don Ashton warned the board that spending changes would have to be made up elsewhere in the budget. That didn’t stop some of the horse trading that followed.
In one case, the board was asked to decide whether to provide the El Dorado Hills Fire Department with $75,000 for its annexation of the Latrobe Fire Protection District. Supervisor Lori Parlin didn’t support providing the money, saying that other programs needed it more. Board Chair Sue Novasel reminded the board that they had previously agreed to provide EDH Fire with the money and when it came to a vote, the board approved it 3-2.
Supervisor Shiva Frentzen noted that the Cameron Park senior meal program provided lunch two days out of the week and a local church provided meals the other two days. She asked that $10,000 be set aside so that a meal could be served mid-week as well. The board approved that addition 3-2.
Novasel then asked that $30,000 be set aside for a needs assessment and housing study for South Lake Tahoe. That motion passed 4-1.
The board also approved helping with the cost of operating the public swimming pool in Placerville to the tune of $20,000 after it was pointed out by former Placerville Mayor Wendy Thomas that 88% of those using the pool live in the county.
On a different matter, it was proposed that $2,500 be set aside to reimburse members of the Commission on Aging for expenses they incurred on behalf of the agency. That measure failed 3-2.
In a press release issued after the meeting, Novasel thanked her fellow board members and members of the public.
“Overall, this is a responsible, conservative, balanced budget. It allows the county to continue to serve its residents well for the coming year and set aside monies for future unfunded costs, with a critical eye toward a more lean future,” she said.