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County adopts $1.4B budget

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Last week, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved a $1.42 billion budget – a 4.4 percent increase over the current fiscal year – for the 2014-15 fiscal year that starts July 1.

Included in the budget is General Fund spending of $390 million, special revenue funds of $508 million and special district funding of $278 million. Funding will be coming from, among other sources, intergovernmental revenues ($513 million), taxes ($312 million), charges for services ($226 million), and use of fund transfers ($153 million).

“The budget process went well,” said 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin. “It’s a lot easier to build a budget than tear one apart.”

The balanced budget will be the last one-year budget the supervisors tackle. Starting next year, the county will be creating a two-year budget, Gorin said.

In her recommendations to the supervisors, Veronica Ferguson, the county administrator, said, “The recommended budget reflects a movement toward modernization and continued fiscal discipline. This movement is perhaps best represented by replacement of the county’s 27-year-old financial system and beginning the implementation of a two-year budget plan.”

Added Ferguson, “The recommended FY 14-15 budget is the county’s first step towards a two-year budget plan. With the help of county departmental staff and concurrence from all department heads, the FY 14-15 budget, for the most part, maintains status quo programming. The FY 13-14 budgeted appropriations and allocated positions approved by the board during the year were rolled forward into FY 14-15.”

The memo continues, “The first full two-year budget, FYs 15-16 and 16-17, will improve program projections and alleviate resources dedicated to the annual budget book construction, and will continue to include quarterly budget updates and annual board adoption.”

Gorin said the budget took about the same time to prepare as last year.

“The CAO (Ferguson) did an amazing job with the department heads,” she added.

Gorin said the supervisors added small amounts of money to the budget, but there’s additional money going to the Permit and Resource Management Department, or PRMD. She said that, among other things, PRMD will be working on the vacation rental issue.

“We hope to get some help with the vacation rentals that are not paying TOT (the transient occupancy tax),” she said.