On Tuesday afternoon the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors approved the county budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-19.
Chief Administrative Officer Timothy Lutz used $9.7 million from the fund balance to shore up the General Fund expenditure requests of $70.9 million. The fund balance refers primarily to leftover funds from unfulfilled county positions that were budgeted for the entire 2017-2018 FY, in addition to other projected expenditures, according to Lutz.
Lutz explained in the introduction of the final budget on page 14, “As has been a consistent practice in effective budgeting, key governmental revenues are estimated at assumed worst case, whereby growth is assumed to be zero or minimal in good economic conditions; expenditures are also assumed at worst case, where if the expenditure will possibly occur, it is budgeted.”
A significant change from the recommended budget adopted in June is that various departments implemented a 5 percent reduction to their General Fund use, which totaled $1.75 million in additional revenues to the General Fund, according to Lutz.
Lutz said at the meeting, “I agree we still have work to do but I also think we’re heading in the direction needed.”
The appropriations for salary increases for the County Assessor, Auditor/Controller, Treasurer/Tax Collector and Clerk Recorder is in the budget, but still requires a board action to modify or approve that compensation, according to Lutz. On Oct 16., the Board will be voting to repeal a 2008 ordinance that ties the salaries of Supervisors with those of the four department heads, in addition to the sheriff, Lutz explained. Under the ordinance, if the department heads are granted salary increases, the same rate of increase would apply to the salaries of Supervisors.
In the last hour of the meeting, the Board determined that $140,000 in finances leftover from the cannabis regulatory program which were supposed to be refunded to cannabis farmers who paid $5,000 in registration renewal fees are locked up in a contingency funds account. In order for the county to be able to refund growers, the item required a four-fifths vote from the Board to direct Lutz to transfer $940,000, the total amount of leftover funds to an appropriations funds account. In the poll, which was voted on in the absence of District 5 Supervisor Clyde Clapp, District 4 Supervisor Dennis Mills voted against the transfer, effectively postponing the item until Oct. 9 for the Board to vote on again. Mills called it “a closed session issue.”
The motion to adopt the final budget came from District 2 Supervisor Jack Garamendi.
“I lost just about every fight I had on it (the budget), but I have to respect the process,” Garamendi said at the meeting. “Not passing it means we would have to shut down the county government.”
County Counsel Megan Stedtfeld clarified that the county is bound by statute to have a balanced adopted budget no later than Oct. 2, or else the county would be unable to issue any checks.
The Board voted 3 to 1 to approve the budget with the vote against adoption coming from Mills.