Budget Overview

Matthew H. Hymel, County Administrator

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The County’s fiscal year 2020-21 Proposed Budget is largely a roll-over budget from the prior year that includes one-time reductions and the use of reserves to balance the budget in the short-term. The fiscal impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency are significant, and they have caused shortfalls in statewide revenues that provide critical funding for mandated health and safety services. 

The next five years will present a number of challenges to the County budget. Next year, the County’s General Fund is projected to have a shortfall of $16 million, and without ongoing budget reductions, the shortfalls are projected to increase to $36 million over the next five years. 

County staff prepares the Proposed Budget each year with the objective of making fiscally responsible recommendations that are consistent with long-term priorities. The Board has identified the top community priorities as improving disaster preparedness, addressing sea level rise and climate change, preserving and creating affordable housing, prioritizing racial equity, and investing in County infrastructure.

In June 2019, the Board approved the Proposed FY 2019-20 Budget. It was for the second year of a two-year budget process. For a summary, check the 2019-20 Budget in Brief. More details and comments can be found in the news release about the budget approval. Preparations for the FY 2020-21 budget began in December 2019 and were updated on April 28, 2020.

Over the past several years, the County took several actions to bring the budget into balance. Between 2008 and 2013, ongoing expenses were reduced by more than $30 million and the workforce was reduced by approximately 10%. The County adopted a lower-cost retiree health plan for new employees in 2008, negotiated lower pension tiers for new employees in 2011, implemented the Public Employees' Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) of 2013, and established an Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) trust to fully fund retiree health obligations. In 2018, additional actions were taken to close the projected gap for FY 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Role of the Public

The budget process is designed to promote dialogue about community priorities. Members of the public are encouraged to participate by writing letters or talking to County Supervisors and department heads. They may also speak at any public hearing on the proposed budget or on amendments to the adopted budget and may apply for appointment on one of the many appointive boards and commissions where County programs and budget priorities are reviewed and analyzed.

Agendas and background information for regular meetings of the Board of Supervisors are available online and at the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors reception desk by the close of business the Friday preceding the regularly scheduled Tuesday meetings. Budget hearing schedules are also available online. Copies of the final budget are available at the Department of Finance and at Marin County public libraries.

Budget Calendar Cycle

Public budget hearings are conducted by the Board of Supervisors.  The calendar for these hearings is published in local newspapers.  Precise dates and times are available at the Office of the Clerk of the Board or in the departments concerned.

Final budgets are approved by the Board at the end of the hearings by reference to the financing uses in the budget as finally determined for the County of Marin. At the end of the public hearings, the Board formally adopts the approved balanced budget and sets the tax rates within constitutional limits. 

Budget Calendar Cycle
Month Description of Activities
January Budget Instructions are distributed by the County Administrator and departments begin planning for the coming fiscal year.
February

Departments submit estimates of current year expenditures and budget requests covering current and proposed programs or changes to the County Administrator.

The County Administrator meets with departments to review current year department program results, priorities and budget issues to inform budget planning.

March Budget requests are reviewed and analyzed by the County Administrator. Preliminary comparison of total requests with total anticipated revenue is made in consultation with Department of Finance.
March/April

Public Hearings are conducted to review department workplans. In 2020, the hearings were eliminated because of the COVID-19 pandemic and replaced by a staff representation.

Early June

The proposed budget is presented to the Board of Supervisors. Copies of the Proposed Budget are available at the County Administrator's Office for the public, or copies may be studied at local public libraries.

Late June

Public Hearings are conducted and the Proposed Budget is voted on by the Board and becomes the legal authority to continue services until the final budget is adopted.

November

The Department of Finance compiles the Final Budget in accordance with the County Budget Act (Government Code §29000 et seq.) and presented in a format prescribed by the State Controller.

Departments submit capital improvement requests for the next fiscal year.

Common Budget Questions

You'll find a list of commonly asked budget questions and their answers in our FAQs section.