Riverside County Seal

Despite big funding shortfall, no employee layoffs or furloughs are planned.

By Jeff Horseman / Staff Writer
Published: June 17, 2016 Updated: June 18, 2016 6:27 a.m.

Riverside County’s budget plan calls for using reserve funds to close a $60.9 million shortfall, but no layoffs or furloughs are planned, according to a report from the county executive office.

The Board of Supervisors will hear from department heads Monday, June 20, to review the proposed $5.4 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Supervisors are expected to give preliminary approval to the spending plan this month – the deadline is June 30 – before completing the budget later this year.

In recent budgets, the county has struggled as new expenses outpaced revenue growth. A major cost driver is raises guaranteed to public employee unions in exchange for pension concessions, which save an estimated $100 million annually.

A lawsuit settlement requiring the county to improve inmate health care in its jails is expected to add at least $40 million a year to ongoing costs. In addition, the county has to hire staff for a $300 million jail expansion being built in Indio, insurance costs are going up and the cost of internal services, such as information technology, is rising as well.

Supervisors also want to add more deputies to patrol unincorporated areas. But public safety costs consume roughly three-quarters of the county’s discretionary income, and officials say there’s nothing left to cut from non-public safety departments.

“Cutting general government services to achieve sufficient savings in aggregate would dramatically reduce services countywide, which we are attempting to avoid,” County Executive Officer Jay Orr wrote in a memo to supervisors.

Riverside County has almost 20,000 full-time employees.

No layoffs or furloughs are called for in the new budget. Departments asked for $131.3 million in new spending, but the executive office is funding only $34.9 million of that.

To save on public safety, the board gave consulting firm KPMG up to $18 million to implement the firm’s 51 suggested cost-cutting measures and to find efficiencies in non-public safety departments.

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