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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sonoma County Adopts Budget

Board of Supervisors Adopts Fair, 
Responsible and On Time Budget
County uses limited resources to preserve vital services and maintain fiscal responsibility

On June 16th, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a $1.2 Billion balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2011-2012 which begins on July 1st. The adopted Budget supports the County’s public safety, health and human service programs and invests in needed road maintenance. In addition, the Budget maintains a $3 million contingency for future uncertainties and preserves one time funds for one time purposes. The Board’s action concludes four days of public hearings and months of preparation to responsibly close a $42.8 million gap in the County’s General Fund created by the struggling economy and increased need for services.

Board Chair and Fifth District Supervisor Efren Carrillo commented, “This is a fair, responsible and compassionate budget. It reflects the priorities of the County to provide needed services with limited resources. I am proud of the public’s engagement, the Board’s ability to craft an effective blueprint for next fiscal year and our employees’ ongoing commitment to quality services.”

Board Vice Chair and Third District Supervisor Shirlee Zane commented, “This balanced budget will take care of our residents who need our help. It funds law enforcement services that assist victims of domestic violence, provides caring services for the most vulnerable children and our aging populations, and was crafted through an inclusive process. We were able to work together which is exactly what the public expects of us.”

Supervisor Mike McGuire, “Balancing the County’s budget, and making many of the hard decisions this year, is an important first step to getting us back onto a strong financial foundation. There are tough choices still ahead. The County has gone from over 4,200 full time employees to approximately 3,650 while still investing in the quality of life needs of our many communities.”

Supervisor Valerie Brown commented, “This budget came down to ensuring core services were in place. Protecting children, the vulnerable and having a strong investment in public safety remain top priorities. The Budget is a road map through this next year and gives the community the programs required to support their needs as we move through a sluggish economy towards a more robust recovery.”

Supervisor David Rabbitt commented, “Sonoma County is innovative and always is looking for new, better and more efficient ways of doing things. This Budget embraces those intentions. Departments have found different ways to do business, leverage scarce resources with our incredible non-profit community partners and invests in the foundations of our communities. We will have challenges next year and this Budget is a proper step forward in addressing them.”

County Administrator Veronica Ferguson stated, “The Board adopted a responsible budget which will require focus, compassion and the continued innovation that are hallmark characteristics of our County. The Budget moves us forward and allows the County to provide vital services while we continue the re-design of our County to align core responsibilities with available resources and re-new the county government. Going forward, our staff will be working collaboratively to meet the community’s needs as much as financially possible.

The $42.8 million gap was closed by:
- Program and Position Reductions = $35.0 million
- Limited use of one time funds = $2.8 million
- Improved sales tax estimates (Prop. 172 and Local) = $2.9 million
- Reducing contingencies = $2.1 million

The budget reduces the number of county full time equivalent positions by 171 and will result in an estimated 39 layoffs. The Board restored a number of programs by redirecting some existing ongoing revenues, minimally utilizing one time funds and without touching General Fund reserves. Some of the restored services and programs include:
- The Sierra Youth Camp, a program which serves at risk girls with innovative directed services;
- Henry One, the County’s search and rescue helicopter program;
- Funding for the Sheriff’s anti-gang intervention efforts;
- A victims advocate in the District Attorney’s Office;
- Veterans’ Claims workers;
- Capital projects funds for the next phase of building the Sonoma County Family Justice Center.

In addition to the large cuts the County made, the Board provided direction to the staff to tightly monitor and bring back to the Board reviews of a number of fiscal and policy matters designed to help address future projected budget gaps. The County’s Fiscal Year starts July 1st, 2010 and ends on June 30th, 2011.

All budget documents are available online at

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