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County General Fund Sees Quarterly Surplus

DMV fees and a booming economy help revenue for the fiscal period ended Dec. 31 outstrip expenditures by $11 million.


The county's strong economy and income from state motor vehicle fees helped create an $11-million surplus for the county's general fund during the second fiscal quarter, which ended Dec. 31, a county budget official said Tuesday.

Last year, the county earned $184 million in Proposition 172 public safety sales tax revenue, leading county officials to budget for $194 million during the current fiscal year.

"The strong economy with the DMV fees have caused projections to improve," said Steve Dunivent, manager of the county's budget department. "In sales tax revenue alone, revenue will be 3.6%, or $7 million, over what we budgeted."

Dunivent said new estimates show that the county could surpass $200 million in public safety sales tax revenue this year.

The county's overall budget is $3.85 billion, with most of that for various programs funded from state and federal sources. The county has a $1.9-billion general-fund budget, but of that, only $400 million is in discretionary funds.

Supervisors approved Dunivent's recommendation to set aside the $11 million and not spend it or use it to pay down the bankruptcy debt.

"We should be cautious about how we use this money," Dunivent said, in light of a county projection that expenditures may outstrip revenue by $20 million in five years.

During last year's budget talks, the county's chief financial officer said that revenue probably won't keep pace with expenditures by 2004. Supervisors approved spending $290 million to pay off the county's pension obligation bonds and free up about $25 million a year.

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