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Riverside County, California

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Budget Y
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Meetings Y
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Lobbying N
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Transparency grading process


Riverside County is one of 58 counties in California. It covers 7,208 sq mi (18,669 km2) in the southern part of the state, and stretches from Orange County to the Colorado River, which forms the state border with Arizona. The county derives its name from the city of Riverside, which is the county seat. The population of Riverside County was 2,189,641 in 2010.

Website evaluation

Main article: Evaluation of California county websites

This website was most recently evaluated on 18 January 2012.

The good

  • The names and contact information for all board of supervisor members is available.[1]
  • Board of supervisor meeting agendas, minutes and video streams are available[2].
  • Budget information is posted[3].
  • Audits are posted[4]
  • Information on taxes is provided with the ability to pay online[5].
  • Information on building permits and zoning is available[6][7].
  • Current and awarded bids are posted[8].


The bad

  • Information on lobbying is not available.
  • Admistrative officials and their contact information is not listed.
  • A searchable index of public records is available[9]. However, contact information for the public information officer is not.

Budget

Riverside County's structural deficit has risen to as high as $130 million in recent years. In 2010, Moody's placed Riverside County on a negative outlook as a result of these rising deficits and shrinking reserves. The FY 2011-2012 Recommended Budget takes steps to eliminate this deficit within two years, initially cutting it to $28 million. Many of these reductions, however, have come through dipping into the county's reserve fund, which has fallen to just 21% of general fund revenue. The county also projects year-over-year increases in retirement costs of over $20 million. Also under the Recommended Budget, most departments (excluding public safety) were cut an average of 19% of net county cost. Public safety departments would be cut an average of 3%-5%. The Recommended Budget is expected to be adopted as the final budget in September, 2011.[10]

Public officials

Elected officials

Board of Supervisors

Riverside is governed by a five-member Board of Supervisors.[11]

Supervisor District
Bob Buster, Chairman 1
John F. Tavaglione, Vice-Chairman 2
Jeff Stone 3
John J. Benoit 4
Marion Ashley 5

Other Elected Officials

Besides the Board of Supervisors, there are five other elected county positions.[12]

Name Title
Larry Ward Assessor-Clerk-Recorder
Paul Angulo Auditor-Controller
Paul Zellerbach District Attorney
Stanley Sniff Sheriff, Coroner and Public Administrator
Don Kent Treasurer and Tax Collector

Administrative Officials

The county's chief administrative official is the County Executive Officer.

Name Position
Bill Luna County Executive Officer

A full list of county agencies and departments can be found here. A county employee organizational chart can be found here.

Pensions

Main article: California public pensions

County employees participate in CalPERS, the state's pension system. The county contributes 8% of elected officials' salaries to the pension system, excluding those who have opted out. They are eligible to retire at age 60. Public safety employees are eligible to retire at age 50.[13]

Some officials are calling for the end of a supplemental retirement plan of $100 per month that costs the county more than $2.5 million a year. Those receiving the benefit come from various departments. The Sheriff’s Department has the most employees — 446 — receiving the 401(a) contributions, largely because the Law Enforcement Management Unit negotiated the benefit, county spokesman Ray Smith said Tuesday. The unit represents sergeants, lieutenants and captains.[14]

Riverside County's combined pension debt exceeds $1.1 billion. An analysis of the county's pension fund from 2006-2011 found:[15]

  • The average pension check issued to Riverside County's retirees — many of whom do not pay into nor receive Social Security — was about $2,615 in 2011. That's more than double the $1,230 monthly average for a Social Security check.
  • The number of former workers earning more than $100,000 a year in retirement grew fivefold during the past six years. Forty-four county retirees earned six-figure pensions in 2006. Last year alone, 233 former employees — or about 3.3 percent of all retirees — received such annual checks. Three of them — a former county CEO, the longest-serving prosecutor and a former undersheriff — are Coachella Valley residents who earn more than $200,000 annually.
  • More than 300 former workers have received pensions that are larger than the checks they earned when they worked 40 hours a week.

Effect of Pension Reform

The state reform legislation raises retirement ages and rolls back pension formulas for public employees hired after Jan. 1, 2013 and may force county officials to renegotiate with union representatives. One state provision likely to require new negotiations is a 50/50 split of pension costs for current workers. The city now picks up the employee and employer shares of pension costs for current employees. A round of negotiations between January 2011 and February 2012 ended in new agreements that largely affected new hires and include minor concessions from existing employees.[16]

Public employee salaries

Main article: Riverside County employee salaries

Key employee salaries are readily listed on the county's website.[17][18]

Name Title Salary
Bob Buster 1st District Supervisor, Chairman $143,031.20
John Tavaglione 2nd District Supervisor, Vice-Chairman $143,031.20
Jeff Stone 3rd District Supervisor $143,031.20
John J. Benoit 4th District Supervisor $143,031.20
Marion Ashley 5th District Supervisor $143,031.20
Bill Luna County Executive Officer $275,545.92
Larry Ward Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder $165,727.28
Paul Angulo Auditor-Controller $165,726.91
Stanley Sniff Sheriff $223,165.71
Don Kent Treasurer-Tax Collector $165,727.28

Lobbying

Main article: California government sector lobbying

Riverside County spent $602,000 on lobbying the federal government in 2010, primarily in transportation related issues.[19] In 2009, the county spent $610,000 lobbying the federal government.[20]

For 2007 and 2008, the county spent $816,676 on lobbying the California legislature.[21]

Transparency & public records

In March, 2011, a statewide audit of county redevelopment agencies found that 18 county redevelopment agencies, including Riverside County, demonstrated a "lack of accountability and transparency." Riverside County's redevelopment agency is the seventh largest in the state.[22]

This year, Riverside County unveiled a new website aimed at keeping the public updated on ongoing budget, pension, and labor negotiation news.[23]

While county labor negotiation meetings currently take place behind closed doors, the Service Employees International Union has been permitting any member of the union to sit in on meetings. County Supervisors Bob Buster and John Tavaglione have spoken out against the practice, with Chairman Buster saying ""If they open it up to all of their represented employees, isn't that also inviting anyone to come to collective-bargaining sessions, the public, the press?."[24]

Taxes

Riverside County residents pay a county property tax, collected by the Office of the Treasurer-Tax Collector. Taxes are collected on behalf of the county, the county's incorporated cities, school districts, and special districts. Property taxes are governed by California State Law. The Board of Supervisors provides an Assessment Appeals Board for residents to appeal the valuation of their property by the County Assessor.[25] The county tax cycle calendar can be found here.

External links

References