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Placer supes investing in long-term budget strategy

Multi-year budget framework takes a long view of spending, revenues
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County supervisors are now not only sitting down in the coming months to chart out a budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year starting in July.

They’ll also be mapping out spending strategies for 2014-15. And 2015-16. And 2016-17.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors informally OK’d a multi-year budget framework that seeks to balance county priorities with available resources over several years.

Chairman Jim Holmes said the county is facing new challenges as revenue streams gradually rise  – but not fast enough to keep up with projected cost increases.

“The new framework will help us make sure the county continues to live within its means but still meets the public’s high-priority service needs,” Holmes said.

On Tuesday, the county CEO’s office presented a budget projection through 2016-17 that showed total revenue in the county’s general fund is anticipated to rise from this year’s $369.56 million to $388.55 million. Sales-tax revenue is expected to increase 3 to 5 percent while property tax revenues could increase “gradually,” according to projections. Other revenues could remain flat.

At the same time, expenditures are forecast to increase from this year’s $362.27 million to $395.21 million in the county’s pot of discretionary funding.

Potential cost increases facing the county include opening and operating the new county jail at the Bill Santucci Justice Center in Roseville.

To balance the budget, supervisors will be considering a mix of cost cuts and use of reserves, while possibly drawing down a fund-balance carry-over that now stands at $30.5 million to $23 million.

Holmes said the new framework will complement the county’s transition to priority-based budgeting, an approach focused on allocating resources to the highest-priority programs and services.

County Executive Officer David Boesch said in a statement issued by the county that priority-based budgeting will focus on communication, measuring performance and linking identified priorities, funding and results “so county residents know exactly what they are getting or their taxpayer dollars.”