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Will there be layoffs? We answer this and other questions about Riverside County’s $5.5 billion budget

By in Press Enterprise on June 18, 2017

By Jeff Horseman

Riverside County supervisors Monday, June 19, will go over the county’s budget for the new fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Rather than read 847 pages full of numbers and accounting terms, you can get answers about the budget here.

Q: How big is it?

A: The fiscal 2017/18 budget calls for $5.5 billion in spending, down 2.2 percent from the current budget.

Riverside University Health System – Medical Center in Moreno Valley is just one of the services provided by Riverside County government.

It’s a lot, but keep in mind that Riverside County is geographically about the size of New Jersey. And it has more than 2 million people, making it one of the 10 most populated counties in America.

County government is one of the area’s largest employers with about 20,000 workers. It’s also counted on to provide police, firefighters and social services, run a hospital, prosecute crimes, run five jails, provide lawyers for indigent criminal defendants and a host of other duties, from code enforcement to managing airports and maintaining parks.

The five elected supervisors have direct control over only about $756 million, or roughly 14 percent, of the total budget. The rest is money primarily from Sacramento and Washington, D.C., designated for specific programs.

Q: How’s the county doing financially?

A: It’s under pressure. Revenues are growing, but it’s not enough to keep up with a series of new, ongoing and inflexible costs.

Q: Like what?

A: In 2012, supervisors gave pay raises to unionized workers, who agreed to pay more toward their pensions and accept a lower tier of retirement benefits for new hires. That caused a ripple effect that boosted the pay of non-union employees.

Also, a lawsuit settlement requires the county to spend millions of dollars a year more on health


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