According to County Administrator Kevin Carunchio, Inyo County shows a balanced budget at $82,424,387 for next fiscal year. The budget is online at www.inycounty.us. It’s heavy reading at 646 pages.
In the considerably shorter introduction and summary of the budget, the CAO says that his recommended budget “maintains core County services and programs; avoids significant reductions to or the outright elimination of other services and programs, strives to fund Board of Supervisors priorities; and does not call for any employee lay-offs or the elimination of positions.”
Carunchio calls the new budget very similar to recent budgets in what it does and does not fund. He also said that quality of services may be eroding due to repeated years of status quo budgeting. The CAO said that the new budget relies on the use of much more salary savings than in recent years but not at the expense of hiring public safety positions. He said there is more use of money from the Geothermal Royalties Fund and the Rural Sheriff’s Trust Fund.
Carunchio said that state and federal budget politics still lurk in the background as potential problems and so do unknowns about tax revenues. Coso Geothermal’s taxes remain iffy and the possible solar project planned for southeast Inyo might not pay enough property taxes.
The budget summary says funding for senior citizens is secure, including local, state and federal dollars. Funds will be spent defending the Coso Geothermal Company’s property tax appeal. $446,526 has been budgeted for deferred maintenance projects. The budget also includes an increase of $306,453 in retiree healthcare costs, and an increase of $150,785 for employee benefit costs.
The proposed budget does not contribute anything to the General Reserve Fund or County Economic Stabilization Fund. The budget does not set aside money to help with ongoing State Budget uncertainties, and it doesn’t set aside money to help with the impact of employee retirement increases in the future.
Carunchio gives credit to County Department Heads for their sacrifices to stay within budget. Budget hearings start September 10th in a special meeting at 9am in the Supervisors board room.