County of Marin - News Releases - Budget Update

For Immediate Release
April 30, 2020

Supervisors Offer Guidance on Next County Budget

Pandemic to cause shortfall; more clarity to come in Governor’s update in May

San Rafael, CA – Providing urgent services during the COVID-19 pandemic is the County of Marin’s No. 1 priority right now, but it must also keep a balanced budget as required by law.

Graphic from PowerPoint mentions the fiscal impacts of COVID-19 to Marin County. The link to the PowerPoint is in the story.
The Marin County Board of Supervisors heard an update from County Administrator Matthew Hymel and Budget Manager Bret Uppendahl on April 28 during the Board’s regular online meeting. The update came as part of the budget planning process for fiscal year 2020-2021, which will be finalized in June. After hearing the update, the Supervisors urged County staff to maintain a balanced focus on both short-term needs as it responds to the COVID-19 emergency and long-term priorities such as climate change and wildfire protection measures.

As is expected nationwide, the pandemic’s economic impacts are projected to cause significant budgetary shortfalls beginning next year, though the full extent will not be known until later this summer. The County is projecting a General Fund shortfall of $7 million to $11 million for 2020-21 without an infusion of federal stimulus funds.

“We need to see what is included in the Governor’s May Budget Revision and how shelter-in-place restrictions are gradually lifted before we can provide an accurate prediction now about next year’s budget,” Uppendahl said. “The economic impacts have been immediate and widespread, but we only have a few weeks of data at this point. We will know a lot more by the time we present the proposed budget to the Board in June.”

Board President Katie Rice noted the County’s proactive actions the past few years to bolster budget stabilization reserves in preparation for an economic downturn and how they will be a huge help in weathering the coming months and years.

“There are so many unknowns,” Rice said. “We’re going to need to manage our reserves prudently to maintain critical County services over the next five years and keep moving forward with important programs and efforts addressing long-term challenges like climate change and wildfire risk.”

On April 29, the County’s shelter-in-place order was extended until May 31. Although some rules are being eased, social distancing measures are impacting the County’s revenue sources, including allocations of statewide sales taxes that provide funding for mandated health and safety functions. Actions in Sacramento will play be a key factor in Marin’s plans as it may include distributions of federal stimulus dollars to county governments.

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act distributed $150 billion to state and large local governments, with California receiving $15.3 billion. But jurisdictions with fewer than 500,000 people, like Marin, have thus far not received any of that funding. County staff is working with state and federal delegations and the California State Association of Counties to pursue allocations of some of the funds.

Unlike the federal government, which is allowed to operate at a deficit, the County must adopt a balanced budget this June. In June 2019, the Board approved a $474 million General Fund budget and $631 million all-funds budget for 2019-2020. The Board’s top community priorities included improving emergency preparedness, investing in County infrastructure, addressing climate change, preserving affordable housing and prioritizing racial equity.

The staff presentation to the Board is online. Learn more on the County’s budget overview webpage, where residents can view past documents and interactive charts and graphs through the budget dashboard. Budget feedback may be emailed to the County budget staff.


Bret Uppendahl
Budget Manager
County Administrator's Office

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite #325
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6358
Email: Bret Uppendahl
County Administrator website