Preparations made to outlast state’s budget problems
Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Created: 08/25/2010 10:02:18 PM PDT

San Bernardino County officials anticipated Monday’s decision by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state controller and treasurer to delay a monthly payment of $2.9 billion to school districts and counties sooner than expected so the state can meet debt and pension obligations.

The leaders issued a joint letter notifying state lawmakers of their decision to begin withholding the payments in September instead of October.

The move reflected the limited resources the state has to work with as the impasse over California’s $19 billion budget shortfall has dragged on for nearly two months.

County spokesman David Wert said the county is prepared with a roughly $60 million cushion in added tax and revenue anticipation notes sold earlier this year.

The short-term bonds are sold to investors and used to tide the county over from July to December, when relatively little money flows into the county coffers.

The bonds are repaid with revenue collected later in the fiscal year.

The county, which has issued the notes every year since 1981, received $160 million from the notes on July 1, including the $60 million the county anticipated it would need to cover fiscal issues stemming from the state’s budget, Wert said.

“This isn’t the first time the state has done this,” Wert said. “The bottom line is, there won’t be any impact.”

Wert also said the county hasn’t received notification from the state about how much money would be delayed or if it would definitely happen.

And if the state announces an amount to be withheld, that number is sometimes later adjusted, Wert said.

The Legislature gave authority in February to the governor, controller and treasurer to delay $2.5 billion a month in payments to schools and $400 million in monthly payments to counties in October, November and December.

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