The first round of reductions planned for November
When the Marin County Board of Supervisors adopted a $619.7 million budget[PDF] in June, it requested quarterly updates to work toward closing the projected budget gap caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The County Administrator’s Office is projecting a $16 million budget shortfall for the next fiscal year, primarily caused by a sharp decline in statewide sales tax revenues.
Budget Manager Bret Uppendahl provided an update[PDF] September 22 before the Board of Supervisors. He said the County is working with all 22 County departments to identify permanent reduction options to achieve an ongoing structural balance. County staff plans to return to the Board in November with initial reduction proposals that do not involve staff layoffs.
”There will be hard choices ahead,” said County Administrator Matthew Hymel. “The loss of revenues due to the economic downturn requires us to be proactive and reduce our spending over the next few years.”
The County used reserves and one-time expense reductions to balance this year’s budget, but it is clear that permanent budget reductions will be needed to balance the budget next year.
“It is too early to draw conclusions about the long-term budget outlook,” Uppendahl said, “but we will continue to refine our projections as more data becomes available.”
The County will be balancing its budget at the same time it is spending about $6 million per month on its COVID-19 response. Most of the expenses will be reimbursed by federal and state revenues through the end of the calendar year, but state and federal funding for emergency response is uncertain for 2021.
Marin’s emergency response spending includes:
- Staffing and supplying of an Emergency Operations Center, including a public assistance call center and alternate care sites
- Emergency isolation housing at local motels
- COVID-19 testing and contract tracing
- Emergency assistance for small businesses, low-income renters, and COVID-positive low-income workers
- Emergency food distribution
- Redeployment of existing staff to Disaster Service Worker (DSW) roles