FAIRFIELD — Solano County’s projected general fund structural deficit for the 2013-14 fiscal year that ends June 30 continues to shrink.
The county began the fiscal year with a projected general fund deficit of $14.7 million, with savings filling the hole. The midyear budget report in February put the structural deficit at $9.8 million.
Members of the county Board of Supervisors learned Tuesday that the latest structural deficit projection for this fiscal year is $2.9 million. The county projects its general fund will have $182.6 million in revenues and $185.5 million in expenses, with a fund balance of $22.3 million.
It’s common for county structural deficit estimates to shrink as the year goes on. For one thing, the beginning budget assumes every allocated position is filled, something that doesn’t happen. The county presently has 2,781 approved positions and 2,536 positions filled, with recruitment underway to fill 187 positions.
Expenses are down almost $5 million from the midyear budget forecast. That is because of savings from staff vacancies and liability insurance cost reductions and savings on several contracts, a county report said.
Also, revenues are estimated to be up by $2.1 million over the midyear forecast because of higher-than-expected property tax income, the report said.
During the Great Recession, the county kept a wary eye on the state government for fear the state would shift costs to counties to cut its own costs. But the latest budget report shows such fears have eased.
“In general, the state continues to see a much improved fiscal picture,” the county report said.
The report still sounds notes of caution. Future property tax revenue remains uncertain. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System has approved changes to pension plans, with a report on the implications for Solano County to come in June.
Solano County will see CalPERS increases of some amount starting in 2016 and is saving money to help pay the expected extra costs.
“We are going to face this,” Assistant County Administrator Nancy Huston said. “It’s a done deal.”
Suisun City resident George Guynn told supervisors he disagrees that the general fund budget is balanced, even though county officials say that it is balanced. The county can’t use savings to fill the gap between expenses and revenues forever, he said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.