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San Mateo County spending plan seeks to prioritize homelessness and equity

San Mateo County spending plan seeks to prioritize homelessness and equity
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The spending plan San Mateo County The recommended budget of $7.7 billion for the next two fiscal years seeks to strengthen the social safety net, while preparing for an uncertain economic outlook.  

County Executive Mike Callagy unveiled the spending plan that will be the subject of three days of public hearings before the Board of Supervisors, June 26-28, 2023.

"While we continue to focus attention on our communities still recovering from COVID-19, as well as fire, flood, and other challenges, we are also looking toward an approach that emphasizes long-term financial stability along with investments that build our resilience in the face of any emergency that comes our way," said the local official.

The plan emphasizes investments in sustaining initiatives and not in launching new programs. 

In that sense, it will seek to end homelessness through investments not only in shelters and affordable houses, but also in counseling services, job training and rental assistance.

Additionally, it is intended to address the housing needs of vulnerable families and renew investments in child literacy and foster youth. As well as updating emergency response protocols and protecting communities by guiding investments in preparation and planning for wildfires, floods, earthquakes and other disasters.

Furthermore, the budget will attempt to ensure that staff are trained to design and deliver services that promote equity and thus include communities that have historically been underserved.

The plan comes as residents are experiencing inflation while the business environment is mixed with increasing layoffs in key sectors of the local economy and rising commercial real estate vacancies. 

At the same time, concerns are growing about state and federal revenue due to a projected budget shortfall in Sacramento.

Callagy said the budget revisions would come in September, when the financial picture should be clearer.

“This cautious approach allows us to prioritize the most pressing needs in our communities while maintaining the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances,” Callagy said. 

"We remain dedicated to serving our residents and will continue to assess the situation as it evolves, making informed decisions that prioritize our Board's goals that take into account the well-being and continued prosperity of our county," he added.

Total recommended budgets reach $4.1 billion for fiscal year 2023-24 and $3.6 billion for fiscal year 2024-25, while Recommended budgets for the General Fund are $2.8 billion in fiscal year 2023-24 and $2.6 billion in fiscal year 2024-25.

The recommended budget would add 120 new positions, primarily in health services, for a total of 5,768 positions for all county funds in fiscal year 2023-24. 

Two positions are added in fiscal year 2024-25, and approximately 40 percent of all new positions would be the result of converting those 0 extra-aid and limited-term ?essentially short-term contracts? in permanent positions.

Notably, the budget maintains General Fund Reserves and Contingencies above 10 percent, as required by Board policy. 

Thus, the combined general fund reserves ?including departmental and non-departmental reserves? they are at 15.5 percent for the 2023-24 fiscal year and 16.4 percent for the 2024-25 fiscal year.

You may be interested in: Redwood City works to preserve affordable housing for residents

Pamela Cruz
Pamela Cruz
Editor-in-Chief of Peninsula 360 Press. A communicologist by profession, but a journalist and writer by conviction, with more than 10 years of media experience. Specialized in medical and scientific journalism at Harvard and winner of the International Visitors Leadership Program scholarship from the U.S. government.

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