Plunging oil prices led California’s Kern County to declare a fiscal emergency on Tuesday, a move that allows officials to tap into a reserve fund as tax revenue faces a big decline due to the lower oil prices. A roughly 50 percent drop in crude prices since the summer is hitting budgets in U.S. oil regions. Kern County, in central California, is at the heart of the state’s oil production. Officials in Kern County, with a population of about 900,000, say the plunge in oil prices has cut projected property tax revenue for the 2015/16 fiscal year budget by $61 million. Oil companies account for about 30 percent of the county’s property tax revenues, said Lee Smith, an assistant county assessor. Roughly two-thirds of the county’s revenue is gleaned from property tax. Overall, the projected drop in property tax revenues, combined […]