11:27 PM PDT on Sunday, June 6, 2010

By DUANE W. GANG
The Press-Enterprise

Riverside County’s top administrator Tuesday will present supervisors with a $4.7 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The spending plan is nearly 11 percent less than the current budget and represents continued declines in revenue.

Most critically, the county faces a $130 million gap between its discretionary revenue — which supervisors have control over — and ongoing expenses.

“Locally, while experts project revenues will shrink again next year, our county’s economic consultants foresee a long gradual recovery,” County Executive Officer Bill Luna wrote in a letter introducing his budget proposal.

“Revenue from property and sales taxes may have broken its free fall, but the bottom has become the new normal, and we must cut ongoing general-fund costs to match realistic revenue predictions.”

The proposal marks the third straight year of budget cuts in Riverside County and fits with Luna’s plan to align revenues with expenses by the end of fiscal 2011-12.

To overcome the gap from this year, the budget contains about $68 million in cuts and uses about $62 million in reserves.

The budget proposes $672.9 million in discretionary spending, down from $744 million in the current year.

The county has cut nearly 1,000 positions since July 2009 through attrition, early retirements and layoffs. More are on the way.

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