At the midway point of the 5 Year Business Plan, the County is following its road map to success as it enhances services to residents and lays the groundwork for the future. Although staff is preparing to tighten fiscal belts because of an array of uncertainties at the state and federal levels, the State of the County is solid because of prudent planning and a willingness to make adjustments.
Our ultimate goals are to deliver strong policies related to the Four E’s: equity, education, environment and economy. When advancements are made in those areas, we take positive steps toward creating safe, healthy, sustainable communities. Every action taken by the Marin County Board of Supervisors is tied to progress in one or more of those focus areas so as to raise the quality of life for Marin residents.
At this juncture in Marin’s deep history, our most important Board priorities for the coming fiscal year are ensuring ongoing fiscal responsibility, maintaining quality roads, addressing housing needs, developing fair and equitable solutions, and adapting to climate change.
In this State of the County presentation, we seek to educate residents about how we’re faring in those priority categories and describe the game plan in an easy-to-understand way.
Our Focal Points For The Next Year
More than 2,200 County employees are working together to close a projected $5 million gap in the 2018-2020 budget. The sacrifices amount to about 1.5 percent of the total budget. That might not sound like much, but one of our most important responsibilities is to spend public funds in an efficient and effective way. We aim to continue our success with reductions of unfunded retiree liabilities. Thankfully, the three largest bond rating agencies have awarded us AAA credit ratings, a sign that our long-term planning efforts are recognized and trusted. Looking ahead, we are determined to minimize budget reduction impacts on residents and employees. Learn more about the County’s budget and related planning process and explore the supporting data at Marin County Open Data.
Transportation infrastructure is another basic and necessary component of what local government provides. We maintain 420 miles of roads and 151 bridges within the county borders – no small job. We currently have an $81 million backlog of maintenance because of state and federal funding reductions. But despite that, we’ve improved our overall road condition rating in recent years by prioritizing projects that provide the most benefit. With all new roads projects, the Public Works Department is taking what’s called a Complete Streets approach in which accessibility is optimized not just for drivers but pedestrians and cyclists as well. Using sustainably-minded designs and new technology on all projects add to the safety of all residents and visitors. We budget approximately $9 million annually in local funds for our roads program. We leverage that for matching state and federal grants, which brings our funding closer to $20 million. Road work is expensive and we really have to plan the project selection process to maximize our funding. An injection of state funding from Senate Bill 1 will allow the County to prioritize backlogged roads projects in the coming year. Get to know our roads and transportation services and explore street pavement condition data at Marin County Open Data.
Developing new housing is tough to do in Marin, one of the nation’s most expensive places to live, but there are a lot of creative ways to provide more housing for our most vulnerable residents, including homeless individuals. The County is collaborating with other municipalities and agencies to adopt a Housing First approach, which prioritizes the establishment of creating homes over factors related to employment and sobriety. As proven in other communities, Housing First participants are more likely to stay sheltered, employed and sober. The County is working on preservation of existing affordable housing and conversions of unused commercial properties into residential opportunities. It’s our belief that housing the most vulnerable leads to better quality of life and health for everyone. Learn more about Marin’s homelessness statistics and the “Housing First” initiative and follow our progress on Marin County Open Data.
Marin’s demographics and socioeconomic statistics get a lot of attention, even nationally. To address disparities and rectify a historic record of institutional exclusion, the County adopted a Racial Equity Action Plan to hold it accountable to goals related to equity. With its partners in the community, the County is dedicated to delivering services to the people who need the help the most and more real or perceived barriers to receiving those services. The County aims to slow down the rate of income disparity in Marin’s neighborhoods and increase health and life expectancy. Internally, the County is diversifying its staff by marketing open positions to a wider array of job candidates and tailoring programs to boost accessibility for all. Review the Racial Equity Action Plan. Review data on employees by Ethnicity, Gender, Age Range and Department using our new interactive Equity Dashboard and explore the supporting data at Marin County Open Data.
The County has been ambitious with its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, shooting much higher than most counties. We feel we have to be ambitious. It’s an emergency. the County wants to reduce emissions to 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Since we’ve already cut emissions by 20 percent since 1990, the momentum is building. The County is aggressively promoting public education and adaptation measures. Participation in initiatives such as the Drawdown Marin movement, and daily encouragement of sustainable practices (zero waste, energy efficiencies, water-saving features) will help the County reach its goals. It’s going to take a lot of teamwork to get there, but with future generations in mind, failure is not an option. What steps will you take to help Marin become a carbon-free community? Review data on electricity and natural gas use, solar installations, greenhouse gas reduction and more at Marin County Open Data.