For Immediate ReleaseJune 17, 2015
Second year of 2-year budget pays down retiree liabilities, invests in infrastructure
San Rafael, CA – With compliments to its finance staff, the Marin County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the second year of the 2014-16 two-year budget that includes $519 million in expenses, up $30 million (about 6 percent) from 2014-15.
The County released the 2015-16 proposed budget on June 2 and hosted public budget hearings on June 15 and June 17. County Administrator Matthew Hymel said the improving economy is providing an opportunity to focus on long-term trends, pay down retiree liabilities, increase investments in roads and facilities, and shore up reserves to guard against future uncertainties.
Board President Katie Rice said the budget reflects a County that is moving forward with its “feet on the ground and eyes on the horizon, applying 20-20 hindsight and 20-20 vision.”
“We are assessing and doing our best to address current needs, while identifying and planning for future challenges,” she said. “We are being realistic and responsible about what we can achieve on a year-to-year basis while laying the foundation to do more in the future.”
Heading into the second year of the County’s first two-year budget, fiscal discipline and targeted investments were the dominant themes. The budget was largely consistent from the plan approved last June and did not propose service reductions. Hymel said he would like to continue with the two-year budget cycle and heard a positive response from the Supervisors.
The Board identified some key areas of community concern such as affordable housing, homelessness, mental health services, infrastructure needs, climate change, aging initiatives, the impacts of tourism on West Marin, and County employee recruitment and retention.
Although property tax revenues are growing again in a rebounding housing market, they are offset by increased costs for workers’ compensation and annual pension benefits, largely because of more conservative assumptions adopted by the Retirement Board earlier this year. Other expenditure increases, particularly for mental health and social services, are cost-covered by increased state and federal revenues.
Between 2008 and 2013, the County reduced more than $30 million in annual spending and cut its workforce by more than 200 positions, or 11 percent. The County’s past fiscal discipline and its demonstrated ability to reduce unfunded liabilities were primary reasons that all three independent credit rating agencies recently affirmed the County’s AAA credit rating.
Hymel said the new budget includes $14 million above the required annual amount to pay down retiree liabilities. Over the past three years, the County’s unfunded retiree liabilities have been reduced by more than $230 million because of strong investment earnings and more than $75 million in accelerated payments.
The 2015-16 budget includes $8 million in one-time investments for several high priority needs, including $4 million for additional road and bridge improvements, $1 million for the County’s contributions toward a detoxification facility, and $200,000 for childcare and preschool scholarships.
The overall objective of the budget is to achieve the shared goal of making Marin safer, healthier and more equitable. Learn more about the budget on the County’s OpenGov webpage, a platform launched in 2014 to bring the budget process to a new level of financial transparency. Adopted 2015-16 data will be added to OpenGov in July.
Matthew HymelCounty AdministratorCounty Administrator's Office
3501 Civic Center DriveSuite #325San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-6358Email: Matthew HymelCounty Administrator website