Santa Clara Co. Budget Erases $64M Shortfall - NBC Bay Area

Santa Clara Co. Budget Erases $64M Shortfall

The booming real estate market credited for boosting budget



    Santa Clara Co. Budget Erases $64M Shortfall

    The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors have passed a $4.6 billion budget that erased a $64 million shortfall and put newly found funds into retiree health, reserves and other programs, county officials said.

    Higher home values this year meant more property tax revenues than projected in May and allowed the county to adopt a balanced budget for 2014 by today's deadline under its charter, Budget Director Mary Stephens said.

    "The improved economy with regard to property taxes gave us a windfall at the end of the process," Stephens said.

    The county's $4.6 billion budget for the fiscal year 2014 starting July 1 covers spending of all kinds, from government services to operations, capital improvements and reserves.

    In May, the county's recommended budget avoided an estimated $67 million deficit through cost reductions from county programs, staff reductions and various other revenue strategies, Stephens said.

    But this month, the county found new funds above earlier projections, Stephens said. For instance, the county realized a 7.8 percent increase in revenue from property taxes, much better than its predicted 3.8 percent, Stephens said.

    The growth in property tax money totaled $24 million, and the county also learned that its share of state sales taxes increased by $9 million.

    Another $21 million in one-time funds, such as $8 million in tobacco settlement money, were also uncovered, Stephens said.

    The board of supervisors decided to invest that $54 million into the county's retiree health program, other county programs and the county's contingency reserve fund, Stephens said.

    The reserves, totaling $18.2 million, are there in case the money is needed should the county lose state sales tax revenues related to the expansion of the Medi-Cal health care program planned for the coming year, Stephens said.