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Riverside County Facing $80 Million Deficit

Adrianna Weingold

Riverside County Facing $80 Million Deficit

CREATED Feb. 8, 2012

PALM DESERT--Riverside County is facing more financial trouble. The county now looking at an 80 million dollar deficit.  

The county is looking at all possibilities when it comes to cutting the deficit but the one thing it won't be able to avoid--layoffs-- possibly hundreds in the coming year.
"Well it continues to be bad," said Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit. "The counties budget is 70 plus percent based on property values and property values have continued to decline. We had hoped to see it bottoming out. We're looking at 80 million dollar shortfall July 1st if we were to change nothing going forward."
Riverside County needs to cut the deficit down to 10 million dollars, that means possible layoffs for close to 200 workers.
"There's no way to avoid that when you can't print money and there's nobody to steal it from and we've got to pay everyone that's working," Supervisor Benoit said. 
It seems no one is safe from the budget crisis, even Cal Fire and Riverside County Sheriffs are facing cuts of 3 percent across the board.
But Supervisor Benoit says public safety agencies will likely be saved from personnel cuts, instead they'll have to find other ways to trim the fat
"Just about every other general fund agency from mental health to the hospitals to the people who work for our animal shelters, there's a whole variety of government figures and county employees that people generally don't associate with the county government, but all of those agencies will be asked to tighten their belts again," Supervisor Benoit said.
The cuts come as no suprise to residents willing to face tough decisions to see a balanced budget.
"We don't want someone's house catching on fire and the fire truck not being able to show up," said resident Gary Grimm. "Again we've over extended ourselves and we need to be able to face that as well." 
"They may have to trim a little bit off a lot of things I just hope it won't be too severe," said resident Patti Gallagher.
Even still, the proposed cuts may not be enough to get the county back on track because of falling property values. Riverside county gets the bulk of their revenue from property taxes and if property values continue to fall that means less tax revenue. The county could face a deficit 10 million dollars higher than they had hoped.
--Adrianna Weingold