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$792 Million Budget Approved by Placer County Supervisors

The Placer County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday, June 3 to approve a $792.5 million proposed budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

The proposed budget will serve as an interim spending plan when the new fiscal year begins July 1. The board will adopt a final budget with updated revenue and expenditure projections in September.

The proposed 2014-15 budget is approximately $71.6 million, or 9.9 percent, higher than the final budget for 2013-14, largely resulting from a year-over-year increase in anticipated infrastructure expenses, including work on a regional sewer system that will pump wastewater from North Auburn to the City of Lincoln's treatment plant. The projected General Fund net budget is 3.1 percent higher than the total for the current fiscal year, while the Public Safety Fund net budget is expected to be 1.8 percent higher. Capital and infrastructure funding is projected to increase by approximately $69 million, or 45 percent.

During the June 3 meeting, board members approved allocating unassigned carryover funds from the 2013-14 budget to the new fiscal year for three purposes:
* Increasing county General Fund reserves,
* Helping fund high-priority infrastructure projects, and
* Funding other priorities identified by the board.

"We're proceeding with cautious optimism," explained Andy Heath, the county's deputy county executive officer for finance, administration and budget.

He told board members that reasons for optimism include several positive revenue trends: property values are on the upswing, sales tax collections continue to improve, development activity is up modestly and unemployment is dropping. Offsetting trends include rising pension and health care costs.

Heath emphasized that the proposed 2014-15 budget builds upon several accomplishments during the current fiscal year:
* A phased opening of the county's new adult jail at the Bill Santucci Justice Center in Roseville.
* An upgrade in the county's general credit rating to AA+ that resulted from a credit review by Standard & Poor's. The firm conducted the credit review when the county refinanced certificates of participation originally issued to help finance construction of buildings in North Auburn and Roseville. Heath noted that Placer County has one of the highest general credit ratings among the state's 58 counties.
* Progress on planning and funding infrastructure and other capital projects.
* A continued focus on budget priorities and communication with the public.
* Progress in the county's phased transition to priority-based budgeting. 

Priority-based budgeting is an approach that seeks to increase transparency in the budget process while helping ensure county resources are allocated based on board and public priorities. The county also has introduced a multi-year budget framework focused on balancing county priorities with available resources while assuring costs of county programs can be sustained in future years.

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