Sheriff, D.A. begin final rounds of budget hearings

Zellerbach, Sniff start off week-long budget review

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach and Sheriff Stan Sniff are scheduled Monday to provide the Board of Supervisors with a rundown on their respective agencies' fiscal plans for 2012-13 in the face of continuing revenue challenges.

Watch the meeting live online by clicking here.

Zellerbach and Sniff will be the first department heads to make presentations next week during what is expected to be the final round of budget hearings before the start of the 2012-13 fiscal year, which is July 1.

According to the county Executive Office, public safety agencies -- which consume 75 percent of county discretionary funds -- are facing budget cuts averaging 5 percent.

Other agencies will have to absorb cuts averaging 9 percent.

Executive Officer Jay Orr has proposed a $39 million reduction in total discretionary spending to close the county's structural budget deficit by the end of the next fiscal year.

In a preface to the recommended 2012-13 budget, Orr said more than 200 positions likely will have to be slashed from county payrolls.

He noted, however, that some displaced employees will be eligible for transfers to agencies with existing vacancies that need to be filled.

"The budget reflects the challenges of an economy recovering sluggishly from the `Great Recession,' Orr wrote. "We must be willing to continue adjusting operating costs to remain consistent with revenue and eliminate our structural deficit."

A budget update in May indicated the county would have $23 million in red ink because of a revenue shortfall in the next fiscal year. That overage could grow larger if property tax revenues come in less than expected, according to county officials.

Assessor-Clerk-Recorder Larry Ward is slated to report the county's 2012-13 property tax assessment roll in July.

Currently, property tax receipts are predicted to decline about 2 percent, from $266 million in the current fiscal year to $260 million in 2012-13, according to the budget report. It also indicated the county will have about $154 million in discretionary reserves in 2012-13, down about $5 million from this year.

Total appropriations proposed for the next fiscal year come to $4.67 billion, compared to $5.1 billion in 2011-12, about a 9 percent drop.

Those expenditures are covered through federal and state "pass-through" funds, county discretionary income and revenue from special districts.

The board is expected to tentatively approve the 2012-13 fiscal blueprint before July 1.

The final product will not be ratified until September, after county officials have had time to factor new variables into the spending plan, including how the state budget will impact counties.

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