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Proposed budget will serve as the interim spending plan

Auburn, Calif.- The Placer County Board of Supervisors voted unanimouslyย to approve an $803 million proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

“The proposed 2015-16 spending plan is a balanced budget that continues the county’s path toward long-term sustainability and strikes a delicate balance between competing priorities, limited resources and anticipated cost increases,” said  Deputy County Executive Officer Andy Heath during his presentation to the board.

The proposed budget total is less than one percent higher than the $798 million final budget for this fiscal year. 

Budget highlights include:

  • $633,000 in one-time funds will be set aside for the proposed Placer County Conservation Plan – an innovative initiative that seeks to balance growth and the conservation of natural resources over the next 50 years in unincorporated areas of West Placer and the buildout area of the city of Lincoln’s General Plan. The funding will allow the county to complete the plan’s environmental review and create a program administrator position to oversee and implement the conservation plan.
  • The Placer County Library will receive one-time funding to purchase new books, materials and electronic resources and $200,000 in additional General Fund support to reduce the library’s reliance on reserve funds to maintain current operations. The proposed budget also contains funds to study possible use of automated materials handling and sorting.  The Loomis and Meadow Vista branch libraries will remain open until at least Dec. 31 while the two communities seek locally funded options for long-term solutions. 
  • The county will continue its commitment to investing in roads, bridges, buildings, sewers and other infrastructure. The proposed budget includes an additional General Fund contribution of $1.25 million for roads and trail maintenance and $2.5 million for catch-up maintenance projects that were deferred during the recession. 
  • The budget will allow the county to expand capacity at its new jail at the Santucci Center in Roseville while increasing treatment and programming services designed to reduce the likelihood of reoffending and returning to jail. Both are key steps in the county’s continued implementation of the Criminal Justice Master Plan.
  • In response to increasing fire-service costs, Placer County Fire’s Ophir fire station will remain open through the main fire season, and a brush truck that is particularly effective in combatting grass and brush wildfires will remain available until the end of this year as well, but they will not be staffed during the first six months of 2016.  The budget includes funding for a consolidation and reorganization study to look at options for more efficiently funding and providing fire services in western Placer County. 
  • The budget maintains the county’s commitment to pay down unfunded liabilities. In January, the board approved a plan to fully fund the county’s unfunded liabilities for retiree benefits other than pensions – a category that includes medical, dental and vision benefits. Known as OPEB, the benefits have historically been funded by governments on an annual pay-as-you-go basis.  Local governments are now required to recognize the value of outstanding liabilities in their annual financial statements demonstrating future fiscal obligations.

Placer County already has reduced its unfunded OPEB liability by almost 40 percent since 2009. Achieving full funding will allow the county to stop playing catch-up while freeing up operating funds for other priorities. Most importantly, it will guarantee employees that the county will be able to honor its long-term commitments to them.

Today’s board action completes the first phase of the county’s budget development process for the 2015-16 fiscal year. The proposed budget will serve as the interim spending plan when the new fiscal year begins July 1. The board is scheduled to adopt a final budget with updated revenue and expenditure figures on Sept. 1.

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