The Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved the establishment of standing subcommittees to review financial challenges facing Riverside County agencies throughout each fiscal year, preventing often complicated funding requests from bogging down board business.
Board Chairman Kevin Jeffries and Supervisor Manuel Perez jointly requested formation of the committees, which will likely meet a minimum of every two months to pore over appropriations requests and zero in on looming impacts to each agency’s bottom line.
“We’re all going to evolve with this committee approach,” Jeffries said. “They’re not going to be public policy committees. The full board will still need to approve implementation of anything.”
Jeffries and Perez pointed out that holding quarterly budget conferences as part of regular county business — which can include transportation, waste resources, economic development and a plethora of other hearings — are inadequate to address agencies’ fiscal issues.
The supervisors said intervening budget “workshops” are helpful but still don’t leave sufficient time to drill into short- and long-term problems.
The pair wrote in their proposal that “deeper discussions” are vital to gain a complete picture of “departmental and agency budgets,” and in particular “whether their budgets align with … (board) goals and mandates.”
“With so many departments and such a large workforce, I like breaking this (budget) process down to have a little more focus,” Supervisor Jeff Hewitt said. “If one committee has a heck of a lot more work than another, maybe we can shift things around.
Three subcommittees will be established, as Jeffries’ and Perez’s proposal now stands. Jeffries intends to bring the matter back before the board on Jan. 15 to begin assigning supervisors to the panels and make modifications as needed.
The first committee will oversee general government and internal services, including the Office of the Assessor-Clerk-Recorder, Department of Human Resources, Department of Animal Services and the Office of the Registrar of Voters.
The second subcommittee will focus on health and human services, including the Department of Public Social Services, the Office of Veterans Services and the Riverside University Health System, which includes the county hospital in Moreno Valley.
The third subcommittee will scrutinize public safety and public works, including the Office of the District Attorney, the Fire Department, Sheriff’s Department, Transportation & Land Management Agency and the Department of Environmental Health.
Public safety agencies account for the largest share of discretionary revenue allocated annually, and the agencies are generally always struggling to structurally balance their budgets, with several starting each fiscal year in the red.
Jeffries and Perez are advocating that two supervisors sit on each committee, joined by the respective heads of each department and supported by their staffs.
Meetings will be open to the public and held in the fifth floor conference room — not the board chamber — of the County Administrative Center in downtown Riverside.