Budget Overview

Matthew H. Hymel, County Administrator

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Staff's objective in preparing the budget is to make fiscally responsible recommendations in an open and transparent manner that are consistent with long-term priorities.

The County’s current two-year budget for 2018-20 is structurally balanced and fiscally sound. Public workshops for the two-year budget took place March 26-28. On the final day of the March workshops, the Board approved staff recommendations to close the projected budget gap for fiscal years 2018-19 and 2019-20.

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 percent. 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. Over the past six years, the County reduced its unfunded retiree liabilities by over $240 million. All three independent bond rating agencies have affirmed Marin County’s AAA credit rating.

In 2014, the County began using a two-year budget process. Although budget staff works with departments to create a two-year budget every two years, the Board annually approves budgets only for one fiscal year.

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.

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.