Supervisors, CAO review General Fund mid-year
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The El Dorado County General Fund balance mid-year budget review, conducted by the county Chief Administrative Office, projects to hit $38.8 million for the 2021-22 fiscal year. The fund balance ended at $50.1 million in the 2020-21 fiscal year.
The General Fund contingency accounts for 51% of those projections at $19.7 million. Of that, $13.7 million was set aside last fall from excess fund balances, according to deputy chief administrative officer Sue Hennike.
The Chief Administrative Office staff recommended to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors to roll the contingency to the next fiscal year.
“Staff and the EOC are still working on the FEMA claim for all our Caldor Fire costs and we are looking at our other needs that are outstanding that we might be able to plug in, if not needed for Caldor impact,” Hennike said.
Departmental savings are projected to be $7.3 million by the end of the fiscal year. High vacancy employment rates in county departments have contributed to the projected savings, according to Hennike.
“What we are hearing from departments is not unlike what you are hearing out there in society,” Hennike told supervisors Feb. 22. “They’re having trouble hiring good people and keeping them.”
District 1 Supervisor John Hidahl noted a $2 million under run for the Planning and Building Department from a $6 million budget.
“I suspect that’s because of staffing but it says to me that something is going on there,” Hidahl said. “If we have corrective actions in place, then we need to make sure we understand what those are because that is a significant deficit.”
Chief Administrative Officer Don Ashton confirmed that CAOs across the state are struggling to recruit qualified people for county positions.
He said his office will look into less restrictive qualifications for staff positions and increase the applicant pool.
“We have to be careful not to water them down too much though, otherwise you do not get qualified people,” Ashton noted.
Hennike said other departments, like the District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office, are also experiencing a shortage in staff.
Excess general revenues, which fund net county costs and other General Fund expenditures, are projected to be higher than previously predicted, $9.8 million, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the Caldor Fire, according to Hennike.
“We were not certain how that would affect the excess general revenues but as we have seen, they have defied our expectations, especially when considering impacts from the Caldor Fire,” Hennike said.
Sales and use taxes are projected to perform $3 million above the recommended budget, which was originally predicted at $15.7 million.
The Broadband Grant Match, projected to be $2.1 million, will roll over into the fund balance next year if not used this fiscal year, according to Hennike.
The public safety sales tax is projected to be $4.3 million higher, a 36% increase from last year’s fiscal budget.
The Transient Occupancy Tax, originally estimated to be $5.76 million, is now predicted to perform $2.5 million above the budget.
County assistant chief administrative officer Tiffany Schmid said there is a surplus of $2.5 to $3 million in TOT funding, granted projections hold true for the rest of the fiscal year.
The county uses TOT funds to mitigate impacts of tourism, such as search and rescues and transportation geared toward tourists.
Public transportation, roadway improvements and snow removal equipment, especially in the Tahoe area, were all suggestions from the Board of Supervisors on how to use those surplus funds.
Supervisors gave direction to staff to solicit requests from fire agencies, the Tahoe Transportation District for Transient Occupancy and other county departments for TOT funds to mitigate the impacts of tourism in 2022-23.
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When the Judicial & Law Enforcement Center was built 40 years ago, there were only 19,400 people living in Douglas County.