Sharing Information | Encouraging Engagement
This special meeting of the board was dedicated to a hearing regarding this fiscal year’s budget.
Here are the notes I took regarding the meeting. Please understand that this is not a comprehensive documentation of discussions and decisions.
County Administrative Office
1.1 Conduct budget hearings for consideration of the recommended budget for fiscal year 23/24. Recommended expenditures, including contingency, total $150,953,869.
- Goal is to not layoff employees (other than 1 in housing that was laid off several months ago when reorganizing this function.
- Natural Resources Division costs – only $10,000 from the General Fund is included in the $200,000+ shown in the budget.
- Cut new proposed positions
- Proposal to reduce Library expenses – requires different operating procedures, not fewer hours of operation
- The county has been in deficit spending for 5 years
- $1 million short after all the above… balancing through the use of an OPEB refund
- Our Strategic Plan (and related discussions) will help to guide future budget planning. This will include efficiency studies, upgraded systems, etc.
Craig Goodman | Budget Consultant
- Funding uses must equal funding sources
- Fund balance can be used to fill gaps
- The budget includes one-time and ongoing funding uses and sources
- The original budget requests were adopted for temporary operations
- Meetings over the past few months were focused on closing the $6 million gap between what was requested and what we can afford.
- Noted that he has stopped making recommendations regarding ways to increase revenues (like tax Increases) as these have either been rejected by the board or the public.
- This budget uses all cash carryovers in place. This means we have no extra sources of revenue (beyond contingency) to address future requests for funding. This also means that if expenses are on track and revenues fall short, we will have a deficit that we can’t fund
- The $151,444, 249 reflects a 7.4% increase.
- See the presentation for more details – The link to the agenda and backup materials is provided below.
- $115.8 million – (true budget less transfers)
- Well over 50% of General Funds go to Public Protection
- $6.5 million (90%) of discretionary General Fund expenses go to Jail, Sheriff, Coroner, Animal Control, Search & Rescue, and Jail Health
- Debt Payments – over $600,000 in annual payments will end by 2025/2026
- $4 million Cash Deficit in the Hospital fund – this is leftover from when the county transitioned the hospital outside of the county’s control. We are seeking State assistance in paying down/off this balance.
- No new debt was taken on this year
- Fee Studies will continue to realign fees charged with the costs of delivering services. It’s important to note that not all services are fee-based (elections, etc.).
- Concern regarding the bleak overall picture and follow-up questions regarding potential sources of increased revenue
- Comments shared that the county has taken action in the past that inhibits industry and housing growth.
- Concerns were shared about budget reductions impacting the Library.
- Comments that county actions that have limited the cannabis industry are in part responsible for funding shortfalls.
- Comments that the county still owes money from a settlement – asking if interest and payment of these are reflected in the budget.
- Question as to how the increase in cannabis-related fines ($100/day vs. $1,000/day) has impacted revenues.
- Question as to how much money is being spent on cannabis-related raids and the handling of them through the DA’s office.
- Questions as to whether code enforcement benefits (and solely benefits) the cannabis permit holders.
- The question as to why so many resources (example shared of 16 vehicles in a recent raid) are being spent on code enforcement and why efforts are so “heavy-handed.” Call for better use of these funds.
- The position to support succession planning was eliminated. The person who would be replaced by succession planning would need to submit a formal letter confirming retirement so that a replacement position can be authorized.
- The $500 requests for propane to heat the Trinity Center Library was not included in the budget. Adjustments made during discussions/review led to this being funded.
- Request funding for 59 positions… received funding for 47.8 positions.
- Jail received funding for fewer positions than requested – which will lead to patrol officers being assigned to the Jail to provide mandated coverage.
- This will have a negative impact on patrol/response coverage
- Animal Shelter budget reduced – could mean that we have to shut down the shelter after December.
- Approximately $1.4 million would be required to fund at the same staffing level funded last year. This is still short of the staffing level requested.
- The proposed budget funds staffing at the level it actually was at the end of the fiscal year.
- Sheriff’s Department receives 46% of discretionary General Fund
- The board can approve changes to allocations mid-year, but you have to make deeper cuts since you only have 1/2 year to adjust. Example – if you want to fund something for $100,000 in the middle of the year, you have to reduce the equivalent of $200,000 (in annualized expenses) since you only have 1/2 of the year to achieve the savings.
Cannabis (approximately 12:30 PM)
- Public Comments
- Shared that this division is a fee-based organization and this means that funds should only be used for activities that benefit the fee-payer. Specific comments about the use of funds from permits to support code enforcement.
- Additional comments were shared in support of the position stated above.
- Concern that county restrictions have inhibited the cannabis industry… at the same time that we are looking for ways to stimulate our economy.
- Comment that if stacking is approved by the end of the year – no stacking permits would be active by the end of the fiscal year.
- Comments that board/commission actions have greatly limited growth in this industry. Indicated that the proposed ordinance will make things worse.
- Comments that it is the county’s responsibility to demonstrate that fees are being used for the benefit of the permit-holders. Referred to Proposition 26. Comments requesting related evidence.
- Concern that the proposed ordinance update would cut the size of currently approved/operating cultivation operations.
- Comment that the promotion of cannabis-related events could help bring in revenues.
- Comment with questions about state grant income (7190) and how it is being used. Noted that an additional $700,000 is being held by the state… which Trinity County could likely collect at this point.
- County update – we may receive the $700,000… but didn’t budget due to a lack of commitment from DCC regarding when it would be issued.
- Concern that Supervisors have not been reaching out to CalTrans on behalf of the Red Barn Retail matter.
- This is referencing the owner’s attempt to get a cannabis storefront retail permit that became unrealistic based on CalTrans requirements.
- Concern regarding the use of permit funds for code enforcement. Asked for a review of all fund transfers.
- TCAA – shared that they represent over 50% of active cultivation licenses. Echoed concerns regarding fund transfers. Comment that the division’s budget would be in the black if not for fund transfers/code enforcement.
- Concern that our CUP process provides other agencies (like CalTrans) with such authority over our land use decisions.
- Interfund Transfer
- Susie Hawkins provided an explanation of where funds are transferred to
- County Counsel addressed questions regarding Prop 26
- This question has been raised on multiple occasions
- The county has studied this to ensure that funds are used in a manner that does not cause the use of funds considered to be a tax
- The benefit can be for the program as a whole – not limited to the individual
- BOS would like to see some findings that support the existing position. County Counsel will provide additional details.
- The board provided direction to staff that we proceed with the budget as presented – with minor adjustments related to $9,500 in revenues that were not reflected. $9,000 of this will go to the contingency fund and $500 will go to fund propane for the Trinity Center Library.
Sharing Information | Encouraging Engagement
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