County financial officer: Tax revenues still dropping - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

County financial officer: Tax revenues still dropping

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CNS) - San Diego County sales tax revenues will come in about $45.3 million below estimates this fiscal year, and property assessments are expected to drop 2.3 percent, the county's chief financial officer said today.

The reversal is stark. Property tax rolls had risen an average of 8.6 percent each year over the past decade, CFO Donald Steuer told the county Board of Supervisors.

Steuer said assessed property values were expected to drop about 2.3 percent this year and 1.4 percent next year.

"Revenues are falling, or failing to keep pace, while expenditures are increasing," Steuer said.

Without improved earnings from the county's pension fund, county employees will need to increase their pension payments, he said.

Steuer said the county's economic picture was clouded by uncertainty over what portion of local taxes the cash-strapped state would return to the county.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob called it "a very sobering report" and predicted she and her colleagues would have to make some "tough decisions" in the days ahead.

In other action, the board voted to join other jurisdictions in an energy conservation energy pilot program for homeowners and businesses. Property owners will be able to pay for solar panels, insulation and other weatherizing measures, improvements over 20 years as part of their property taxes.

"This is really a significant step in forming a reasonable and long-term energy policy," Supervisor Ron Roberts said. "This could reduce in the long term the energy demands we have in San Diego County."

Increasing solar energy production will enable the county and utilities to meet government requirements for deriving a greater portion of their electricity from renewable sources, Roberts said.

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