SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County has released its proposed budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year, with the spending proposal up nearly $475 million from last year.
The county's proposed annual spending plan is $9.3 billion, up from $8.8 billion during the current fiscal year. The general fund budget, which is the more flexible portion of the spending plan, is $4.9 billion. The rest is primarily spending mandated by law, giving county officials little ability to manipulate.
The budget will be the first in the past couple of years that does not include state and federal funding related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but officials are still focusing on the build-out of its public health initiatives, stemming largely from efforts to reduce the homeless population.
"With the end of the state and federal emergencies related to COVID- 19, the county continues its commitment to public health as it navigates lingering impacts from the pandemic, and the persistently high inflationary pressures placed on the economy," Orange County CEO Frank Kim said in his annual statement on the recommended budget.
The county's OC CARES initiative, which links five systems of public health in the county, is a major budgeting priority, Kim said.
Another major initiative will be funding for green energy technology and sustainability.
"The county is pursuing various efforts aimed towards environmental sustainability and green technologies," Kim said in his budget statement. "As part of these efforts, the county is focusing on reducing its carbon footprint and is developing a Green Infrastructure Plan that focuses on ongoing development of green infrastructure specifications and long-term operation and maintenance plans, which complies with various regulatory requirements and future drought and climate action needs."
The county's budgeted general purpose revenue is at $1 billion, $60.9 million more than last year's budget. That is owed mostly to $63.7 million more expected in property tax revenue.
The county is projecting $432.7 million in revenue from Prop. 172, which is the primary source of money for public safety. Of that funding, 80% goes to the sheriff and the rest to the District Attorney. It represents a 2.5% increase compared to last year.
The county will receive about $2.5 million more from the state for AB 109, the so-called public safety realignment effort from 2011 to reduce prison overcrowding.
The county projects adding 23 more jobs in the upcoming budget. Most of those will be for public health initiatives.