For Immediate ReleaseJune 02, 2015
Second year of 2-year budget pays down retiree liabilities, invests in infrastructure
San Rafael, CA – Public budget hearings are planned for later this month as the County of Marin staff discusses how the improving economy is providing an opportunity to focus on long-term trends, pay down retiree liabilities, increase investments in roads and facilities, and set aside reserves for future uncertainties.
That was the key message delivered June 2 to the Marin County Board of Supervisors as County budget staffers presented the proposed budget for 2015-16. Hearings for formal budget approval are scheduled for June 15 and June 17.
Heading into the second year of the County’s first two-year budget, fiscal discipline and targeted investments will be the dominant themes. The budget is largely consistent from the plan last year and does not propose service reductions. Overall, the budget is increasing by just over 6 percent.
Although property tax revenues are stronger than expected, they are offset by increased costs for workers’ compensation and annual pension benefits, largely because of more conservative assumptions adopted by the Retirement Board. 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.
County Administrator Matthew 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.
“During better economic times, we are investing in infrastructure and allocating one-time funds to reserves,” Board President Katie Rice said. “During the economic downturn, we tightened our belts and kept County government on a strong fiscal footing. While a recovering economy has helped buoy our finances, we know that not everyone is sharing in the Bay Area’s economic gains. We are taking a long-term view in consideration of both current and future generations of Marin residents.”
The fiscal year 2015-16 Proposed General Fund budget, the primary fund for most programs and services, is $414 million, a 5.4 percent increase versus the prior year. The figure 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, $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.
The June 15 and June 17 budget hearings are to take place in the Board chamber beginning at 9 a.m. The chamber is in suite 330 of the Marin County Civic Center, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael. Questions or suggestions about the budget may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matthew HymelCounty AdministratorCounty Administrator's Office
3501 Civic Center DriveSuite #325San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-6358Email: Matthew HymelCounty Administrator website