Ventura County general fund ends fiscal year with $43M savings

(Ventura, Ca) Through a combination of strong management efforts and thoughtful, conservative fiscal projections, Ventura County ended last fiscal year with savings of $43 million. The savings were bolstered by an unexpected one-time receipt from the state of $10 million owed to the County for past unreimbursed mental health services performed since 2004.The $43 million have been placed into reserves.

“We budget conservatively to ensure the County can sustain critical services, continue investments in infrastructure and prepare for a potential economic slowdown,” said County Executive Officer Mike Powers. “The reserves reflect one-time funds to be used for significant facility and program investments such as development of homeless shelters and animal services facilities, as well as increased reserves. Increasing our reserves is especially important in light of cost shifts from the state to counties, such as the new funding formula for the In-Home Support Services Program or to mitigate fiscal impacts from significant changes in health care, detention programs, as well as the potential for an economic slowdown.”

Approximately $15 million of the savings came from savings in expenditures with almost $4 million resulting from the County’s commitment to lean six sigma process improvement.

“I’m very proud of our County leadership and managers,” said Powers. “The lean six sigma savings are a demonstration of the fiscal responsibility that is an organizational imperative at all levels of the County. The program recently highlighted its tenth anniversary with cumulative ongoing savings of more than $33 million.”

For the last eight years, the County has increased its Unassigned Fund Balance (reserves) to Revenue Ratio. That ratio currently sits at 13 percent. The unassigned fund balance is a portion of the overall fund balance that has not been obligated for other purposes.

The budget includes the safety budgets for the County unincorporated areas as well as the cities of Thousand Oaks, Camarillo and Moorpark among others. 

“The team has worked hard to right-size the number of employees,” said Board Chair, Peter Foy. In previous years there were strategic increases in some areas, such as child and adult protective services but last year and this year the number has stayed relatively flat. “This has helped departments stay within budget as well as minimize increases in pension costs,” Foy said.

At its December 11th meeting, the County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved budget adjustments for special programs using the infusion of one-time funds.

Among the funding measures approved were a one-time contribution to the Ventura County Medical Center of $9.8 million.

“The contribution is to pay for the engagement with Huron Consulting Services who was contracted to help transform the health care system and improve its operational and financial performance,” said Foy.

VCMC will present the contribution in their financial presentations as a one-time contribution on a separate line. An additional $715,000 in facility improvements at the government center and a county-owned property in Saticoy were also approved.

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