By Deb Murphy
Inyo County’s 2016-17 budget is a done deal—approved with minor modifications by the Board of Supervisors at Tuesday’s meeting.
The modifications included relegating $50,000 in a trust account, allocating $55,000 to match grant funds for Bishop Airport improvements and upping the amount to cover contingencies from $12,000 to $100,000.
After a long presentation and discussion September 6, it took roughly five minutes to make it official: $95,978,087 in expenses against an anticipated $87,935,124 in revenue with the $8,042,963 difference made up by the fund balances accumulated from the 2015-16 budget.
County Administrator Kevin Carunchio provided a simple definition of those fund balances: “it’s like the amount left in your checking account at the end of the month. You are glad it’s there; it shows you have managed your money and it’s available to use in the coming month.”
Fund balances from both the General Fund and All-Fund budgets are primarily accumulated as a result of salary savings associated with vacant staff positions, under-expenditures from high cost items budgeted in one year but not realized or a series of small savings and from revenues higher than initially budgeted.
In addition to the official budget approval, the Superintendents heard from Michael Reynolds, Death Valley National Park superintendent.
Reynolds updated the county on progress in repairing flood damage at Scotty’s Castle and Jubilee Pass in Shoshone last October. The repairs incorporate 43 distinct projects, “four or five happening now, the balance are in the early planning stages,” Reynolds said.
Scotty’s Castle will re-open for tours in January; visitors will be able to see the “recovery as it happens.”
The park’s “hot mess” hit in mid-August when consecutive power outages forced the evacuation of staff and heat-seeking tourists.
Nye County assisted in the evacuations, Reynolds said, since Death Valley’s hot mess occurred at the same time Inyo was evacuating Whitney Portal campgrounds due to fire.