Santa Rosa, CA – May 31, 2019 – Sonoma County has released a recommended $1.78 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2019-2020. The recommended budget reflects the County’s continuing determination to maintain fiscal sustainability while investing in recovery and resiliency.
Each year, the County Administrator’s Office and County Departments develop a sound operating plan for the approaching fiscal year, which covers July 1st, 2019 through June 30th, 2020. The central goal of this year’s budget development is to align ongoing uses with ongoing resources for a structurally balanced budget, and match funding investments with the Board’s strategic priorities, including recovery and resiliency.
“It is difficult to predict with certainty when the next recession will hit or when Mother Nature may strike again. The devastating Sonoma Complex Fires followed by the February 2019 flood events exemplified the need to be even more resilient and prepared,” stated Sonoma County Board Chairman David Rabbitt. “In line with that, we’ve proposed to dedicate $39.5 million this year solely on recovery and resiliency across the five key strategic areas: Community Preparedness and Infrastructure, Housing, Economy, Safety Net Services, and Natural Resources.”
The investment of $39.5 million in recovery and resiliency will result in enhanced services, such as a new Department of Emergency Management, charged with developing a first class comprehensive community alert and warning system. The investment also enhances fire response and preparedness, by funding streamlined fire response services, and a Fuels Reduction and Landscape Resiliency Campaign. Additionally, this funding will result in the development of housing on West College Avenue site and in the Roseland Village, and support expedited rebuilds and rezoning efforts to increase affordable housing.
The $1.78 billion budget is primarily comprised of State and Federal funding that supports programs that help provide services for older adults and children, employment and job training, environmental mitigation, and many other services that help enhance the health, safety and wellbeing of our communities. The local discretionary portion of the budget is made up of $320 million in General Fund general purpose revenues.
As a result from the fires and floods, revenues from property taxes has been reduced. For the past two years, the State has provided funds to backfill these property tax revenue losses, but this year’s preliminary draft State budget does not include any backfill for Sonoma County. Additionally, the County’s damages from the fires and floods over the last two years are estimated at over $200 million. Much of the costs can be reimbursed by State and Federal agencies, however the final amount is unknown. Potential reimbursements are not included in the recommended budget.
“The County Administrator’s Office worked with departments and agencies to limit expenditures by aligning their services with the available resources. This includes holding or eliminating vacancies,” said Sonoma County Administrator Sheryl Bratton. “Reducing and controlling operating costs is necessary in our financially challenging post-disaster environment.”
The Board will have the opportunity to review and prioritize funding for services and new programs before the final budget adoption. The County is scheduled to hold budget hearings on June 11, 12 and 14, 2019, and may extend hearings to the week of June 17, if needed. Public comment on the budget hearings will be held at 3 p.m. on June 11, 2019. Sonoma County residents are encouraged to attend and provide input about the recommended budget. Note that June 13 will be a Special Board of Supervisors Land Use Appeals Meeting, not a budget hearing day.