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|San Mateo County, CA||May 3, 2011 Election|
Budget & Fiscal Reponsibility
By Dave PineCandidate for San Mateo County, Board Member; County of San Mateo; Supervisorial District 1
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I will prudently manage the county's $1.8 billion budget to efficiently provide vital county services such as law enforcement, fire protection, and public health. As an elected school board member for over seven years, I have a proven track record of insisting on financial accountability and making tough budget decisions.Fiscal Responsibility
I will prudently manage the county's $1.8 billion budget to efficiently provide vital county services such as law enforcement, fire protection, and public health. As an elected school board member for over seven years, I have a proven track record of insisting on financial accountability and making tough budget decisions. I will draw from my unique experience as a former senior executive at three high tech companies and as an local elected official to ensure that the decisions the county makes are both fiscally responsible and also compassionate to the residents who depend on our county for basic services.
As a current San Mateo Union High School District (SMUHSD) school board member and prior board president, I oversee a $100 million operating budget and a $300 million capital budget. I do not take this responsibility lightly. During my tenure on SMUHSD's board, the district's financial position has significantly improved. The district's bond rating has been upgraded twice and reserves have increased from 3% to over 10%. As a SMUHSD school board member, I helped implement the district's three megawatt solar project that will save the district almost $1 million annually in electricity costs.
Declining tax revenues, state budget reductions, investment losses, increasing costs, and greater demand for services has created a significant structural deficit for the county which if not addressed will result in severe reductions to the critical services provided by the county. Over the last three years, the county has spent more than $248 million from its reserve funds to balance the budget. This approach is not sustainable. If we continue to rely on reserves, we will jeopardize the county's strong credit rating and leave the county without options to respond to unforeseen fiscal emergencies.
We can close the county's budget deficit by (1) finding ways to operate more efficiently, and (2) cutting some services after first establishing our priorities.
In this economic climate, it cannot be business as usual for any level of government. Most large organizations can find ways to reduce their budgets significantly with discipline, creativity and belt tightening. I believe the county could achieve significant savings by taking some combination of the following actions:
We must prioritize the services that are most critical to our residents, keeping in mind that in this fiscal environment, every service cannot be continued forever. Currently the county is looking at budget proposals that would cut $50 million in programs and services across all departments. These cuts will be painful. To decide where to cut, the county should adopt a "budgeting for outcomes model." Under this approach, instead of using the existing incremental budget process that funds individual departments starting with the current year's budget, the county would use a priority based process that allocates funding based on available resources, agreed on goals, and demonstrated results.
Position Paper 2
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