Inyo County Budget: Balanced but Precarious

Budget time for local bureaucrats does not equal a pleasant experience this year. Most just don’t have enough money to do things as they’ve always been done. In fact, Inyo County’s Administrator has compared this year’s budget experience to the Godfather’s attempt to escape the mob.

Administrator Kevin Carunchio quotes the fictional Godfather figure in the budget introduction, apparently to dramatize the difficulties. Carunchio wrote in his budget document that a global recession and a suffering State Budget made last year’s revenue windfalls “barely sufficient to keep the County solvent.” In spite of that, Carunchio said he has been able to present a recommended budget this is balanced “without substantial reductions in services or programs.” This budget will also pay the State $1.5 million in extra property tax dollars to balance the State budget.

The Administrator points to the likelihood of more state cuts in the future, possibly in transportation and public safety, as the California budget continues to falter. On the plus side, Inyo County will receive about a million more dollars than expected through federal payments in lieu of taxes and transient occupancy tax.

Carunchio said that his recommended budget does not guarantee no lay-offs, does not take care of seriously deferred maintenance of county buildings, does not set aside money for increased employee retirement costs of as much as $2.65 million.

The recommended budget? Roughly $80 million in expenses. A budget hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday morning at 9am at the County Administrative Center.

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