Supervisors Approve $1 Billion Budget

Tulare County will begin to put more money into reserves, pay down more debt, and fund one-time projects to improve services thanks to a balanced $1 billion spending plan approved by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Pete Vander Poel said for the second straight year Tulare County did not face a General Fund deficit going into the budget process.

“Not facing a budget deficit for the second straight year means we can focus on improving our organization as a whole and continue to provide important services to Tulare County residents,” Chairman Vander Poel said. “I would like to thank all department heads and employees for their excellent work.”

County Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau, who prepared the FY 2013/14 Recommended Budget, said fiscally conservative spending policies from the Board of Supervisors and a statewide economic recovery allowed Tulare County to take a positive approach in budgeting this year. For example, the County was in a position to offer a 3 percent salary increase to employee groups whose contracts were up for negotiation this year and, in some cases, equity adjustments were offered to employees who were behind in salaries compared to other counties.

“While the economy is turning around, we will still remain conservative to ensure we can continue to avoid drastic measures while facing unknown economic circumstances,” Rousseau said.

Rousseau said the 2013/14 Adopted Budget reflects a $28.7 million, or 4.5 percent, increase in General Fund expenditures over last year’s adopted budget. The increase in the general fund spending can be attributed to additional social services provided, an increase in workers compensation spending, salary increases, and the addition of 17 new positions.

Other highlights from the 2013/14 Adopted Budget include:

-    An additional $2 million was added to reserves, which now stands at $22 million.
-    Debt payments were increased by $1 million.
-    $1.5 million was set aside for a new Sheriff’s substation in Porterville.
-    $1 million was set aside for facilities to house criminal justice departments in Porterville as a result of the new Porterville Courthouse.
-    Tulare County’s Marijuana Strike Force Team will continue to be funded.

The Board of Supervisors is responsible for reviewing and approving budgets for all County operating funds, internal service and enterprise funds, County Service Areas, and dependent special districts. The State Controller issues guidelines for the organization and presentation of county budgets so that they are standardized among all counties.