COVID-19 recovery efforts, equity and safety-net services focus of $6.3 billion two-year spending plan
Friday, May 28, 2021
Michelle Durand
  • Redwood City – County Manager Mike Callagy today unveiled a $6.3 billion two-year spending plan that focuses on safety-net services and helping the community respond to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “This budget reflects funding and expenditures for our ongoing efforts against COVID-19 and recovery programs to help our residents, small businesses, and community organizations weather the continued uncertainty,” Callagy said. “The bottom line is that we will emerge as a stronger and more resilient community for the future.”

    San Mateo County logo

    Unveiling the spending plan is the first step in a weeks-long process. The Board of Supervisors will consider the blueprint at a series of public hearings beginning June 21, 2021.

    The Recommended Budget adds a net of 26 positions, primarily in health services in the first year of the two-year plan for a total of 5,642 positions. No additional positions are recommended in FY 2022-23.

    “Stable Condition”
    Overall, San Mateo County is emerging from the pandemic “in a stable condition” as the impact on the local economy and County finances was not as great as anticipated a year ago, Callagy said. (San Mateo County’s unemployment rate, for instance, rose to 11.4 percent in April 2020 as pandemic lock-downs shuttered sections of the economy; the rate fell to 4.8 percent in April 2021 – the second lowest in the state behind Marin.)

    Big Love dog and heart sculpture
    "Big Love" is the sculpture outside the County's new animal shelter located near Coyote Point. Animal care, control and licensing is a shared service provided by the County with financial contributions from all 20 cities.

    While job losses have declined, the overall impact on the economy is an open question: the restaurant and retail industries are only starting to come back while passenger traffic at San Francisco International Airport – a major economic engine for the county through tourism and trade – is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels for several years.

    “While we have many reasons to be optimistic as we emerge from the pandemic, this budget also reflects the need for restraint and caution, even as we make investments to build a stronger foundation for recovery,” Callagy said.

    The Recommended Budget provides the Board with a strong foundation with the flexibility to continue to respond to the pandemic.

    Priorities in Recommended Budget:

    Sandy beach coastline
    San Mateo County Parks is partnering with Peninsula Open Space Trust and the Coastal Conservancy to protect environmental resources and promote public safety at Tunitas Creek Beach.

    ► Accelerate efforts to end homelessness by providing funds to operate three hotels purchased during the pandemic, two to provide intensive services for persons experiencing homelessness and one for long-term housing for vulnerable seniors. Funds are also proposed for remodeling and improving facilities at the Safe Harbor and Maple Street shelters.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic, and the acute risks it poses to those currently or at risk of experiencing homelessness, quickly made it clear that we must act decisively to end homelessness within our community,” Callagy said.

    ► Raise early-learning reading scores and improve school attendance with $16.2 million over two years in Measure K funds to continue the successes of The Big Lift, a partnership with schools, libraries and community partners.

    ► Help the county’s most vulnerable residents by providing funds to replace the aging Cordilleras mental health facility with a new campus that will provide state-of-the-art care for adults with a severe mental illness.

    ► Enhance the quality of life for all with major upgrades to Coyote Point, Memorial and Flood parks and continue to convert the 56-acre Tunitas Creek beach property into the newest County park.

    ► Pursue social equity in services and internal practices with the hiring of a new chief equity officer in the County Manager’s Office to coordinate countywide efforts to develop and implement policies and programs to advance equity.

    Group of school kids waving handmade flags
    The Recommended Budget provides $16 million over two years for The Big Lift, which helps young learners in overcome barriers to success.

    “The pandemic has brought to light the deep inequities in our county and we must put a laser focus on expanding services in those communities most heavily impacted not only by COVID but by so many other disparities,” Callagy said. “Equity is a key focus across our entire organization going forward.”

    The Recommended Budget in Brief
    Use of Funds 2021-22 Recommended Percent of Total 2022-23 Recommended Percent of Total
    Admin & Fiscal $768,683,344 23.0% $591,006,350 19.9%
    Community Services $776,595,762 23.2% $632,249,928 21.2%
    Criminal Justice $497,872,752 14.9% $495,310,450 16.6%
    Health $1,009,264,410 30.2% $972,484,440 32.7%
    Social Services $293,008,297 8.8% $285,123,255 9.6%
    Total Requirements $3,345,424,565 100.0% $2,976,174,423 100.0%

    The 2021-22 Recommended Budget reflects a decrease of approximately $329 million over the previous year, primarily due to the end of one-time funding sources related to the pandemic such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.

    The Recommended Budget is available here.

    The agenda for the Recommended Budget Hearings June 21-21, 2021, will be posted at

    Arroyo Green apartments exterior
    The Recommended Budget includes $40 million over two years for affordable housing. Above, the Arroyo Green apartments, completed in 2021, include 117 apartments for low-income seniors in Redwood City. The County was among several partner organizations that invested in the project.