San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy has released a $3 billion, two-year budget that defines key priorities for the county going forward, including $50 million toward affordable housing, more than $15 million to early childhood education, and sizeable investments in unfunded pension liabilities, among other expenses.
The proposed budget, issued on May 24, is slated for review at the June 18 meeting of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.
The proposal targeted several longstanding priorities for the county, like affordable housing developments, which would be slated to receive a $50 million allotment of Measure K funds. That was a half-cent sales tax passed by voters in 2016. The budget also highlighted continuing efforts to bolster reading performance for third-graders through the Big Lift initiative.
The proposal for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 fiscal years also calls for funds in support of a computer-aided dispatch system to be installed in the county’s new Regional Operations Center set to open later this year. The system would be used to dispatch resources during emergencies and provide first responders with real-time information in the field.
Major improvements to county parks are highlighted in the budget. Callagy recommended renovations at Flood Park, completion of the promenade at Coyote Point Park, completion of water, sewer and bathroom renovation at Memorial Park and efforts to bring the newest addition to the county’s park system, Tunitas Creek Beach Park, online.
Callagy says that the budget reflects a need for fiscal prudence.
“Local governments across the nation face increasing service demands as the federal government retreats from its commitments,” he wrote in a prepared statement. “A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the economy at both the national and local levels.”
The rise in workers across San Mateo County, continued Callagy in his message to the Board of Supervisors, has put significant strains on families seeking affordable housing. Between 2010 and 2019, the number of workers in the county surged by 84,7000 additional employees.
“This is not a flyover county,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley. “We’ve got these huge businesses — Facebook, Google, Apple — and they’re all expanding. And it’s great that they’re expanding, but we don’t really have the housing for all of these companies.”
While Louise Rogers, chief of San Mateo County Health, was able to balance the current year’s fiscal budget, a $52.2 million budget gap looms over the department for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, wrote Callagy. He said the gap is a result of increased costs, stagnant revenue and the mounting uncertainty of federal health care policies.
“These losses are not sustainable,” he continued. “So systemic changes must be made.”
Callagy also recommended that the board approve an expected increase of $94.9 million in employee salaries and benefits to account for cost of living increases, longevity pay and equity payments. In addition, the budget proposes boosting the total number of county employees, which currently stands at 5,543, by 18 with several new positions. These include a two-person psychiatric emergency response team, five full-time workers to support upcoming county elections and 12 property appraisers.
“We are very proud of our employees,” wrote Callagy in his message to the Board of Supervisors. “The raises and equity adjustments made in recent negotiations recognizes the work they do and how much they are valued by this organization.”