The Orange County Board of Supervisors began public discussions on June 8 on the province’s newly recommended $ 7.7 billion budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year.
No formal steps will be taken until the board has officially approved the budget at its June 22 meeting. At the June 8 meeting, the financial blueprint was submitted to supervisors and the public to get feedback and make adjustments before it was approved.
If you compare the recommended fiscal year 2021-22 with the budget 2020-21, there is an increase of $ 152.1 million, or about two percent.
The general budget of the proposed budget will amount to $ 4.1 billion, and it provides for more discretion outside the programs required by law.
The purpose of this year’s budget is to bring back hundreds of jobs lost due to the economic shortage of the pandemic.
During the pandemic, 548 vacancies in the province were scrapped, 617 employees retired and 212 vacancies were removed by the voluntary incentive program approved by the Board of Supervisors last year.
The forthcoming budget includes funding from the U.S. Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which provides the province of Orange with $ 308 million for the current fiscal year and another $ 308 million for the upcoming fiscal year. The province plans to use the funding for programs and projects that make it possible to return to the pre-pandemic economic conditions.
The proposed fiscal year 2021-22 budget contains credits for seven different areas. Public protection accounts for 22.1 percent of the funds, while community services are expected to consume 38.8 percent. An additional 18.3 percent was bookmarked for infrastructure and environmental resources. Other areas include government services at 2.9 percent, capital improvements at 2.9 percent and debt services at 2.5 percent. Insurance, reserves and miscellaneous are 11.5 percent of the budget.
Representatives from each category spoke to the board on June 8 and answered questions.
Supervisors Andrew Do and Lisa Bartlett said they were concerned about listing $ 29.2 million as “unallocated funds” when the province had an overall revenue loss of $ 314 million last year.
“I am very concerned when we started this conversation with the unallocated funds by addressing the flexibility in the way this council can spend our money,” Do said. ‘I do not take the strategy on that basis; I take it strictly from the way I would manage my own finances. If the auditor controlled $ 314 million in revenue loss, and here we put $ 29.2 million that was not allocated. ”
He continues, ‘It makes no sense. It’s like me who owes the bank money and instead of taking money to pay off my debt to cover the loss of income, I keep it aside unannounced … For me, you address the loss first. ‘
Frank County CEO Frank Kim said he agreed with Do on these points, adding that the FEMA funds for which the country had applied for first aid were yet to come. City bureaucrats are not sure if the money will ever come.
“There’s a risk in this particular budget … there are currently $ 180 million in non-reimbursable FEMA claims,” Kim said. “This is not a situation that is taking the country very lightly. You have seen the state of our budget reserves. If we had to deduct $ 180 million from this, you would now be in a situation where you are less than the two-month revenue lead that is standard for provincial organizations across the country. ”
He continued, ‘I can not today, look at the board and give you that each of the FEMA claims is going to be processed and in what time, so there is a risk that it can not be compensated. We know this has been the case in the past, whether it is responding to fires in the field or other emergencies, so there is a risk. ‘