RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Riverside County supervisors today approved taking $25 million out of the county’s reserve pool and placing it into an account from which agencies can make withdrawals to meet ongoing expenses tied to the coronavirus emergency.
Chief Financial Officer Don Kent had submitted the request for a funds transfer in anticipation of the current contingency account being drained. The account has about $8 million, but that money could be depleted in the current fiscal year due to a range of unexpected needs, including COVID-19 mitigation, Kent said.
“We are just pre-positioning and adding capacity to the contingency fund,” the CFO told the Board of Supervisors. “This transfer will bring our balance up to $33 million and help us in dealing with COVID-related expenditures that are occurring.”
Supervisor Kevin Jeffries worried that the infusion might represent an opportunity for “department heads to spend money how they want,” but Kent denied that would happen because of restrictions that are in place.
“This money is for purchases of durable medical equipment, hotel and motel leasing costs (to shelter transients and others during the health care emergency),” he said. “This is to position the county to address these costs.”
Kent said that the state and federal governments will be billed by the county for relief from the crisis expenditures, per the state and national emergency declarations, but there was no way to know when the reimbursements would flow.
“We’re fronting these costs,” he said.
At the midpoint of the current fiscal year, the county’s reserve pool was roughly $235 million. The transfer will lower it to about $200 million, and further draw-downs are expected as county agencies submit their budget requests for 2020-21.
The budget hearings are slated to get underway in June.