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Departments have begun preparing budget requests for FY 2019-20.

County Departments Start to Prepare Budget Requests

Author: Administrative Office
Date: 12/19/2018 1:46:55 PM

County departments have begun preparing their budget requests for fiscal year (FY) 2019-20 as the County attempts to close a projected $5 million to $10 million budget gap.

County departments have begun preparing their budget requests for fiscal year (FY) 2019-20 as the County attempts to close a projected $5 million to $10 million budget gap.

The County’s budget serves as a policy document, an operations guide, a financial plan, and a way to help communicate the value of County services. Development of the budget is driven by:

As in previous years, department staff will submit budget requests to the County Administrative Office in January. The Administrative Office team will then review the requests and work with departments to create a recommended balanced budget for FY 2019-20. The Administrative Office will then publicly introduce the recommended budget to the Board of Supervisors in May 2019. 

The Projected Budget Gap

To help departments begin preparing their budgets each year, County staff from a variety of departments develop an annual financial forecast based on a number of assumptions about the coming fiscal year.

For the second year in a row, staff projected a budget gap, meaning expenses are expected to outpace revenues. On October 9, 2018, County staff presented the FY 2019-20 Financial Forecast and publicly announced the projected $5 million to $10 million budget gap.

“The forecast is not the budget, but just like with a household budget, thinking ahead helps us plan for potential shortfalls and figure out what we can do next year to close the gap,” said County Budget Director Emily Jackson. “We base our forecast on what we know is coming, what we think might happen based on State and Federal actions, and on our budget for the current year. Once we get budget requests from departments, we’ll know what the budget actually looks like and we’ll be able to make accommodations to close any gap.”

The FY 2019-20 Financial Forecast assumes that the County will continue current programs and services, with no increases in the current year, or in FY 2019-20. The forecast also assumes that the State will provide revenue for various programs and services that it mandates we provide to help us cover those expenses.

This is consistent with one of our Board adopted budget policies, which essentially states that we won’t increase the County’s share of expense for a state-mandated program, unless the Board elects to do so.  

“Because we’re dealing with very large numbers, there is a lot of sensitivity at play when it comes to forecasting,” Jackson sad. “Every year we try to provide a range, because if our assumptions are off by just 1%, it could have a significant impact. The range we’re forecasting this year is $5 to $10 million of a deficit.”

Financial Forecast FY 2019-20

Estimated Revenues:             $542.8 million

Estimated Expenditures:        $550.3 million

Estimated Gap                         $   -7.5 million

Estimated Gap Range            $5 – 10 million**

“We are legally required to have a balanced budget by the time the fiscal year begins,” Jackson said. “We have a lot of ways to balance our budget, including a hiring chill and using reserves to soften the impact on services. But those short-term approaches don’t solve the problem."

Jackson added, "Our longer-term strategy is to be driven by priorities and engage all departments and employees in closing any structural gaps. This year, each department is preparing a prioritized list of program and service reductions that can help us balance the budget if needed next year.”

Learn more about the FY 2019-20 Financial Forecast.