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Sonoma County Supervisors approve Two-Year Budget

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Sonoma County Supervisors approve Two-Year Budget

Supervisors focus investments on roads, safer communities, and long term fiscal health

By Rebecca Wachsberg

On June 16th, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved their first two-year budget spanning both Fiscal Year (FY) 2015-16 and FY 2016-17. The budget reflects a strong financial position for the County, attributable to fiscal discipline, employee contributions, and an emerging regional economy. The first year of the budget, FY 2015-16, includes $1.45 Billion and 4,106 positions, and expands investments in three key areas that support the County’s strategic priorities: funding for road system improvements, safer communities, and long-term fiscal health.

“Through this budget, the Board advanced a number of strategic priorities while continuing investments to further strengthen the County’s fiscal health,” said Board Chair Susan Gorin. “We committed to a second annual early payment on our pension debt and contributed to our reserve while also funding our roads and a number of public safety enhancements.”

The Board’s adoption of the budget concludes two days of public hearings that included wide-ranging conversations regarding service expansion, information systems, county facilities, and roads. It also marks the first time Sonoma County has presented a two year budget. County Administrator Veronica Ferguson highlighted this transition, emphasizing the value it provides the Board and county staff in early identification and prioritization of opportunities and needs. 

While the Board has increased funding for roads over the past several years, FY 2015-16 marks the first year where that investment has been made exclusively with ongoing revenue. Public safety enhancements include additional staffing to assist with investigations and address recruitment challenges at the Sheriff’s Office, funding for enhanced evidence-based programming at the Juvenile Hall, and investments in the countywide fire system.

These investments were made while also approving an additional $3.5 million advanced payment to retirement system for the second consecutive year, not only reducing the outstanding pension liability, but avoiding an additional $3 million in expenses over the next 20 years. Additionally, a $724,000 contribution to the General Fund Reserve was approved, which maintains the reserve at 10.2% of General Fund revenues.

All budget documents are available to the public online at www.sonoma-county.org