Nevada County budget increase: Revenue struggles to keep pace with spending

Nevada County’s revenues are increasing, but so are its expenses.

“Our fiscally prudent fiscal policies have kept us in good financial shape,” said Martin Polt, county chief financial officer/deputy chief executive. “Our staffing remains 20% below pre-recession levels, and we know we have a sustainable budget for FY22-23.”

Total budgeted revenue for the next fiscal year is $322 million, an increase of 8.5% or $25 million. Total planned spending is $330 million, an increase of 10.3% or $31 million.



The Nevada County Board of Supervisors discussed and passed the budget at its meeting on Tuesday.

Polt said the financial management policies developed over the past year have developed budgets that are essential to the stability of fiscal prudence and balance of funds. The county will work to maintain services at least at last year’s level while streamlining services, particularly at recreation and community development agencies, given the current total deficit balance.



Spending increases are largely focused on budgets that target council goals and the delivery of core services by county departments.

“That includes behavioral health, which is the department most involved in the CalAim program to improve the health of our citizens,” Polt said. “In addition, expenditures by the Solid Waste Division for upgrades to the McCourtney Road Transfer Station, as well as planning in our Housing Division for another low-income housing project similar to the Cashin’s Field project currently underway in Nevada City.”

Other impacts on the total revenue shortfall were attributed to lower than expected cannabis tax revenues and a stabilization of transfer duties with fewer property sales and/or lower property values.

“We’re seeing stronger revenue returns, but that’s also reflected in expenses,” Polt said.

County wages and benefits rose 9.3%, with health care the biggest increase. In addition, increases in service supplies are up 20%. The information systems department will see an increase of four additional full-time equivalent employees, as well as more employees for the Office of Emergency Services and for Cannabis Enforcement.

POTENTIAL FISCAL THREATS

Federal and state revenue increased by $11.7 million, primarily in the Health and Human Services Agency, including revenue related to the new CalAIM Medi-Cal program, which is a more coordinated approach to maximizing the good health of Medi-Cal participants. Other revenues such as sales tax and property tax are expected to show moderate growth.

“County fund balances, including the general fund and other operating funds, remain healthy, with funds as a percentage of overall spending remaining above the 30% target,” Polt said. “The county recognizes several potential threats to the budget and finances, including the threat of a recession, the costs of wildfires and other emergencies, the costs of pensions, and our continued reliance on state and federal budgets. . We are well positioned to address these threats and are monitoring them closely. »

CEO Alison Lehman said wildfires and economic development are central to pandemic recovery. She noted that the county has held back the industry with help from the American Recovery Plan Act and the Community Resiliency Act. The latter provided $5.8 million and she commended supervisors for allocating more than 30% of CARES and ARPA funding to support local businesses.

Officials say the county remains on track for its housing goal. It reduced homelessness by 35% and veteran homelessness by 40% last year. In addition, 175 affordable housing units have been added.

“We’ve achieved significant milestones in affordable housing, with 300 units since 2017 and over 100 more for next year,” Lehman said. “And our focus on broadband increased connectivity by the county approving the programmatic environmental impact report to accelerate the work of internet service providers in connecting more homes to the internet.”

William Roller is a staff writer at The Union. He can be contacted at wroller@theunion.com