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Budget Primer

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The County Budget & Finance Office (CBFO) is part of the County Executive Office and reports to the County Finance Officer (CFO). The CBFO’s primary responsibility is the County's budget: planning, preparation, presentation and monitoring and development of the County's Strategic Financial Plan (SFP). This is described in more detail below. In addition, the CBFO performs special studies and participates in working groups to assist the County Executive Office and County departments with special projects.

The County's budget development process begins in the summer of each year with the SFP, which is typically presented to the Board of Supervisors (Board) in December. The SFP is an annual strategic financial planning process that includes a five-year revenue and expense forecast as well as identification of strategic priorities and emerging initiatives. The SFP process provides a framework for testing budget assumptions and aligning available resources with operating requirements, implementing new programs and facilities; and serves as the foundation for the development of the upcoming fiscal year budget.  Additionally, the SFP includes capital and information technology project proposals facilitating early evaluation of project viability and economic feasibility. This framework enables the Board of Supervisors (Board) to make annual funding decisions within the context of a comprehensive, long-term perspective. The SFP emphasizes that the County must ensure its resources and programs are aligned with Countywide strategic priorities and values.

In January, the CBFO issues budget policies and detailed instructions for County departments, including a calendar establishing completion dates for key budget development events. The CBFO, in coordination with the County Auditor-Controller's Office, establishes the level of non-departmental, Countywide revenues projected to be available to the County. County departments prepare budget requests and submit them in early March to the CBFO. The County Executive Officer (CEO), CFO and CBFO staff meet with departments to discuss the requests. After extensive review and collaboration, including recommendations provided by the CFO and CEO, the budget is then compiled, balanced and undergoes a final review by the CBFO, CFO and CEO before the Recommended Budget is published.

In May, the CBFO plans and conducts briefing sessions for the Board staff members and the CEO and CFO conduct individual briefings with Board members. During the Public Budget Hearings in early June, the CEO presents the budget, and the Board casts straw votes and provides direction. Subsequently, prior to the end of June, the Board adopts the budget on a simple majority vote. The adopted budget becomes the spending plan and spending limit for the County departments.

The Recommended Budget serves as the County’s baseline budget and excludes requests from departments for additional resources, known as augmentations, to either maintain or expand current levels of service; these requests are included under separate cover in the budget augmentation requests document. The annual budget reflects Board-approved augmentations.

Actual revenues and expenses are monitored during the year and reported to the Board periodically. Modifications to the budget may be submitted in the September Budget Update, Mid-Year Budget Report, April Budget Update, and Year-End Budget Report for Board approval and require a 4/5 vote.

In summary, the CBFO produces a balanced County budget which serves as a realistic plan of resources available to carry out the County’s core businesses and priorities. It is consistent with the County's mission statement and the SFP. It follows budget policy guidelines, meets many of the departmental budget requests, incorporates impacts of the State budget proposals, addresses important capital needs, and provides adequate reserves.


Notice: The following pages present selected financial and other information concerning the County of Orange. The information does not represent, nor is it intended to represent, complete financial data or all of the information a visitor or investor may desire. All information presented herein is dated as of its date and the County of Orange makes no representation that such information is current or complete.