San Rafael, CA – The County of Marin’s new budget delivers top-quality service through cross-departmental collaboration with more than $14 million in new roads, facilities and affordable housing investments.
Given the strong economy, the new budget is an opportunity to invest in infrastructure and prepare for future uncertainty.
The Board of Supervisors on June 18 approved a $630.7 million budget for the fiscal year 2019-2020, representing a 7 percent spending increase over the previous year.
The budget represented Year 2 in a two-year budget process. The top priorities in the budget remain: improving disaster preparedness; investing in County infrastructure (roads, fire stations, libraries); preserving affordable housing in the form of workforce, senior or low-income dwellings; addressing sea level rise and climate change; and eliminating inequities in County policies and programs. A recent County survey of residents showed a strong alignment with Board’s top priorities.
There is new funding for emergency preparedness measures such as an additional $250,000 contribution to the “Lessons Learned” fund created in the wake of the 2017 North Bay Wildfires and $350,000 to update business continuity and emergency plans for residents who have access and functional needs. It also includes $825,000 for climate change adaptation initiatives.
“We think this budget is the most structurally sound budget we’ve put together in the past 10 years,” County Administrator Matthew Hymel said. “Given the strong economy, this is an opportunity to invest in infrastructure and prepare for future uncertainty. It took a lot of work to get to this structurally sound position. We need to be diligent to maintain this balance we’ve found.”
Board President Kate Sears, who represents District 3 in southern Marin, said the budget process “walked the talk” with respect to the performance management and employee engagement framework.
“There is an incredible amount of work that goes into this process, and this budget demonstrates strong strategic planning,” she said. “It reflects community priorities and is fiscally responsible. With our enhanced employee involvement and commitment to continuous improvement, we are well positioned to handle the challenges that may come our way.”
“The budget is in good shape,” County Budget Manager Bret Uppendahl added, “particularly if the economy continues to grow, or at least has a soft landing. We have increased our reserves and created stabilization funds to help mitigate the impacts of an economic slowdown, but we will continue to be challenged to find ways to fund infrastructure improvements in County roads and facilities.”
Hymel said his budget staff followed up on Board recommendations to reflect investments in children and the aging community, develop pre-apprenticeship and jobs programs, analyze firefighter staffing levels, and to establish a countywide fire prevention program.
In fall 2018, the County launched a performance management initiative called Marin Compass that will serve as an accountability and communication tool. It was introduced to foster a culture of continuous improvement and learning with input from residents, clients and County employees of all levels. By bringing diverse perspectives to the table, County staff can tackle tough issues in the community while ensuring the things that matter most to residents are addressed.
Sears said Marin Compass will serve as a wayfinder as County departments move from concepts to actions with measurements of success. She said local government’s most successful engagement “meets people where they are” and that the program is “really enriching everything our departments are doing.”
Learn more about the County’s budget overview webpage, where residents can view the 16-page Budget in Brief and use interactive charts and graphs through the budget dashboard. Let us know your thoughts by sending a message to the County budget staff.