By Joe Nelson Staff Writer
Posted: 02/11/2011 01:06:50 PM PST

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will review and discuss quarterly budget projections and proposed adjustments from county departments.

In March, county Chief Executive Officer Greg Devereaux implemented a policy requiring each department to submit quarterly budget reports to the Board of Supervisors for review.

The purpose is to provide a snapshot of where county departments are in terms of meeting their budget goals.

“It sets us up for the coming budget year so we can get aligned properly,” said Dean Arabatzis, chief financial officer for the county.

A 19-page report prepared for the board touches on the county’s economic outlook and cash flow issues for the second quarter of the fiscal year.

On a high note, retail sales were up 0.3 percent in the first quarter of 2010 compared with the first quarter of 2009. They were up 4.8percent and 3.9percent in the second and third quarters of 2010, respectively.

Property tax revenue, however, is decreasing by $3.2million, primarily due to a reduction in assessed valuation resulting in a $2.91million use of budgeted general fund contingencies.

“Sectors of this county are continuing to decline in assessed valuations. It doesn’t bode well for next year,” Arabatzis said. “Assessed valuation isn’t performing as well as we liked. We would like to see it level off.”

The plummeting value of homes, industrial and commercial properties has been attributed to the decline in property tax assessments in the last year of between 3 percent and 4percent, but things should be looking up in 2012, if only marginally, said Redlands-based regional economist John Husing, who studies the Inland Empire.

“Next year it looks like property tax collections will rebound, about 1percent, but at least it’s a change of direction,” Husing said.

Though new construction in the county will continue to lag and stunt recovery, construction of large industrial facilities should restart in 2011 since the number of vacant warehouses of 500,000 square feet of space or more is now zero, according to the report.

The Sheriff’s Department, District Attorney’s Office and Probation Department all had to make significant changes in order to balance the 2010-2011 budget.

The Sheriff’s Department cut $6.8million in overtime by transferring patrol deputies to county jails, but saw increases in revenue of $7.6million from its contracts with the courts and cities.

Though the District Attorney’s Office has managed to run a pretty tight ship, it could exceed its budget target due to cash-outs from anticipated retirements in March.

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