County releases $294 million budget


The Madera County 2017-18 proposed $294.6 million budget will fund several sheriff positions that were previously unfunded, replace some county fire department equipment, and provide IT upgrades to comply with federal and state information security requirements.

The proposed budget is $26 million higher than the 2016-17 budget, and includes an estimated $15.5 million carryover from the current fiscal year, ending June 30. The 2016-17 budget was a $32.3 million increase over the 2015-16 budget.

According to Madera County’s Chief Administrative Officer Eric Fleming, the proposed budget is “balanced and increases the reserve for future needs by $843,359 to a total of $4.9 million and maintains a $2.4 million contingency due to the fiscal prudency of the board of supervisors, exceptional efforts of the county management team, and steady economic growth.”

The budget also recommends continuation of a selective hiring freeze as a cost containment measure.

In addition, the proposed budget sets aside $500,000 for fire equipment replacements, and also addresses necessary security requirements in the Madera County Jail. The budget also includes funding for several key capital projects, including: funding for the design and engineering work for the new agriculture building - schematic design costs for the district attorney and probation building - and demolition costs for the 35-year-old jail annex building at Courthouse Park in Madera.

Public hearings for the proposed budget will begin at 9 a.m., June 26, in the chambers of the Madera County Board of Supervisors.

Proposed budget highlights

Highlights of the proposed county 2017-18 budget include:

The Public Protection category has increased $6 million over fiscal year 2016-17. The increase is primarily due to the following: updated workers compensation; general liability and retirement contribution rates; the recommended funding of five previously unfunded deputy sheriff positions; an accelerated replacement cycle for sheriff patrol vehicles to improve officer safety; funding for fire equipment replacements; increases in the fire protection services contract with Cal Fire; addition of one building inspector position; and the projected financing costs for jail improvements.

The Public Assistance category has increased $5.3 million over fiscal year 2016-17. The increase is primarily due to increases in projected public assistance aid costs, specifically, in the Aid to Adoptions and KinGap Programs, and the full year cost of Social Services positions that were added and funded during the current fiscal year. These programs are generally financed by state and federal funds. A 3.5% increase in the In Home Supportive Services was also included.

The Education category (Library and Agricultural Extension) has increased $200,000 over fiscal year 2016-17. This increase is primarily due to updated workers compensation and general liability rates, increases necessary to augmenting the library’s books and subscription appropriations, and funding to replace the carpet at the main library, which is currently beyond repair.

The preliminary General Fund Balance for the period ending June 30, 2017, as projected by the auditor’s office in cooperation with the administrative office, is estimated at $15.5 million. The auditor’s continued timely completion of the county’s financial statements has allowed for a more accurate beginning balance at June 30, 2016. The auditor’s office is scheduled to complete the final June 2017 fund balance calculation in the fall of this year after the final close-out of the 2016-17 fiscal year.

In a letter to the board of supervisors, Fleming pointed out that economic development efforts continue to progress throughout the county and will continue this year with a continued focus on new residential, commercial, and industrial development opportunities.

“The Rio Mesa Area continues to be the most active development area countywide. More specifically, there has been significant new residential development in the Riverstone Community, while development in the Tesoro Viejo Community accelerated with the formation of a Community Facilities District (CFD),” Fleming said. “The county’s economic development team participated in an effort that successfully attracted Community Medical Centers (CMC) to acquire 200 acres of land in the Rio Mesa Area for a future medical campus similar to those in Fresno and Clovis. The CMC project will help attract other businesses and help maintain a balance of jobs and housing in the area.”

Fleming also said it is worth noting that the past year brought significant accomplishments: the board approved a Fire Equipment Replacement and Reserve Policy, which established a process by which equipment acquisitions are prioritized systematically and are done on an ongoing basis to facilitate a more cost efficient method of funding; the county received a conditional award of $19 million from the state under the SB 1022 Adult Local Criminal Justice Facilities Construction Program - funds will be utilized for jail construction and renovation to address requirements identified in a needs assessment; design work was initiated and is substantially completed for the new health and social services office complex; and facility work was completed and operations are about to begin at the new county morgue.

The preliminary budget is available at the office of the clerk of the board, the Madera Library and online at www.madera-county.com.