The Colusa County Board of Supervisors heard from CAO Wendy Tyler for her annual “State of the County” briefing last week.
The gist of her presentation was that the county is doing just fine: Property values in the county are continuing to rise gradually; the County itself will have paid off all but one of its long-term loans by the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year, and by taking a proactive approach has put itself in a position to be prepared for the rising costs of retirement and other post-employment benefits.
“I think Colusa County is in a very solid position,” said Tyler. “You have great staff that serves this county. We had to make some very hard choices in getting us to where we are today, and I think the board and staff are certainly to be commended for getting us here.”
Revenues down, expenditures up slightly
Looking at the five-year trend in the county’s major funds, revenues have been on a gradual decline, with a slight bump this year because of a handful of grants it received for various large projects, Tyler noted. Expenditures, meanwhile, were higher than average – but included a number of one-time expenses for big projects, including improvements at East Park Reservoir, the construction of a new county jail facility, and expenses associated with the county’s participation in the Sites Reservoir Project.
Long-term debt nearly paid up
After the 2017-18 Fiscal Year, Tyler said, the county will have just one outstanding loan, and a zero-percent interest loan at that. All told, the county has about $175,000 in loans that still need to be paid off after the upcoming fiscal year – a number that Supervisor Kim Vann said was “unheard of.”
County in good position to fund retirement, Other Postemployment Benefits
While municipalities across the state are struggling to tackle the rising costs of retirement and Other Postemployment Benefits (OPEB), Colusa County finds itself in a solid position, thanks to years of maintaining tight budgets and making tough decisions, Tyler said.
Colusa County has 63 percent of the funds it needs to meet its obligations to retirees and eligible employees. At $121 million, that number is a big one, Tyler noted.
For Other Postemployment Benefits obligations, the bulk of which are healthcare costs, the county has funded 65 percent.
“I can say that Colusa County has taken this on, and is very serious about ensuring that this gets funded,” Tyler said, noting that the county has been setting money aside to help meet their future obligations for the past few years. “Looking forward, likely in this fiscal year, hopefully bring forth an opportunity to put what we do have set aside for that funding into an irrevocable trust, which will actually make our accrued liability go down. I think you will be very pleased with the results of your hard decisions to tackle OPEB. You did it early and substantially.”