The County of San Mateo’s finances remain strong in the two-year FY 2017-19 budget released today but County Manager John Maltbie, looking to future political and economic uncertainties, urged using fiscal prudence to control ongoing costs.
The total Recommended Budgets for FY 2017-18 and FY 2018-19 are $2.65 billion and $2.5 billion, respectively. The Recommended General Fund budgets are $1.74 billion in FY 2017-18 and $1.62 billion in FY 2018-19. The total number of authorized positions is 5,502 in FY 2017-18 and 5,504 in FY 2018-19, representing a modest increase of 14 positions from the revised FY 2016-17 Revised budget.
The decline in spending from year to year is due primarily to the elimination of significant one-time allocations for capital construction and maintenance projects, IT projects, and loans and project contributions. Projected revenues and contingencies are above the 10 percent dictated by Board policy, which allows flexibility to respond to future needs.
“While all the economic indicators for the County remain positive, we are in one of the longest sustained grow cycles of the post-war era,” Maltbie wrote in his message prefacing the budget. “A recession is inevitable and the County needs to be prepared.”
That preparation involves the County continuing its commitment in its people, its future and the trio of goals launched during the last two-year budget cycle to end homelessness, strengthen childhood literacy and improve educational outcomes for foster youth. The recommended budgets for the next two years include $27 million for homeless services and to date the County has contributed more than $15 million in Measure K funds to the Big Lift childhood literacy initiative. The County has also been working with several departments to develop affordable housing units for foster youth in our community.
The new funding demands in the FY 2017-19 budget include:
• $10 million for correctional health, which includes housing former state prison inmates now shifted locally due to State Realignment, and re-opening 10 beds in the Maguire Correctional Center for mentally ill male inmates.
• Affordable housing will receive about 25 percent of voter-approved sales tax Measure K appropriations over two years, following the Board’s direction in May to spend $40.5 million with the possibility of a $3.25 million increase if Peninsula Clean Energy repays its loan back early. This funding will be added as a June budget revision.
• $387,603 in position costs for Assessor/Elections in anticipation of added workload due to a projected additional 12.3 million square feet of new development over the next three years. These positions and related funding will be added as a June budget revision.
• Compliance with new runoff discharge regulations by the San Francisco Bay Area Regional Water Quality Control Board will cost $4.4 million. However, Public Works’ costs will result in no increase in County costs due to the new state transportation funding.
The ultimate fate of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on local coffers remains very unclear but the County estimates any replacement in the next six to nine months will not have a fiscal impact that cannot be covered by the San Mateo Medical Center and Measure K reserves.
The Board of Supervisors will hold budget hearings on the FY 2017-19 Recommended Budget from June 19 to June 21 in Board Chambers, 400 County Center, Redwood City. The Board will take its final vote on the budget in September.
The complete Recommended FY 2017-19 Recommended Budget and Maltbie’s full message are available on the County’s budget website: http://cmo.smcgov.org/budget-and-performance.