The Stanislaus County Chief Executive Office recently released its first ever two-year spending plan, going beyond the typical 12-month budget to promote long-range financial planning and, hopefully, create more time for County departments to manage their financial resources.
“For many years, our office has developed financial models that project out a minimum of five years to tell the Board exactly what we think is going to happen with our budget and financial status prior to bringing the budget out,” Stanislaus County Chief Executive Officer Jody Hayes said. “What we’re trying to do with this new two-year budget model is push that out further into our organization.”
The County’s Recommended Final Budget plans for the years 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, identify both the operational plan for year one and the spending plan for year two. The new budget model is designed to streamline budget development for a cohesive and coordinated plan, as well as shift focus to analysis and highlights of actual financial results.
Hayes said that a two-year budget is able to accomplish these goals by freeing up time that normally would be spent creating an annual budget.
“By the time you’re done building a budget, you’re already starting to try and build the next year’s budget,” he said. “You’re spending your time managing a process that, realistically, doesn’t have to occur that frequently.”
It’s the Chief Executive Officer’s hope that with the introduction of a two-year budget plan, County departments will spend less time building budgets and will be better able to manage the funds they already have.
“We hope that it opens up more flexibility for departments to plan out over longer periods of time how they want to manage existing resources instead of trying to get things done within a 12-month interval,” Hayes said. “It incentivizes departments to think more long term.”
The Recommended Final Budget totals $1.36 billion in the first year of the budget period, which reflects an increase of approximately 1.5 percent or $19.8 million for all funds as compared to the 2018-2019 Adopted Proposed Budget. The General Fund totals $356.6 million, which has increased 3.5 percent of $12.2 million from the 2018-2019 Adopted Proposed Budget of $344.4 million.
According to Assistant Executive Office Patrice Dietrich, about a third of that increase, or $7.1 million, is in the Board of Supervisors’ priority area of supporting community health — specifically, programs that are focused on services to children in foster care — while an additional increase of $3.1 million has been made available for the priority area of strong and safe neighborhoods, providing funding for equipment and maintenance replacements for the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.
While Hayes and Dietrich believe additional funding for priority areas are an exciting part of the new two-year budget, another aspect which isn’t directly tied to financial resources could be useful for the community as well.
Under each priority tab in the new budget, the Chief Executive Office has implemented community indicators, which provide broad-based community metrics that let both the Board and community know how the County is doing in certain areas like poverty, unemployment, job growth, crime and more. The statistics could prove vital to creating future financial documents, Hayes said, and can give Stanislaus County residents a glimpse into the overall health of their community.
“These are the things you mention when you talk to the Board about what success will look like,” Hayes said. “We’re excited about that and hope the pubic pays attention, because when you think about where all of your money is going and how successful we are, those are the things we want to impact.”
The Stanislaus County 2018-2019/2019-2020 Recommended Final Budget is available for public view at the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors Office, 1010 10th Street, Suite 6500, in Modesto, and is also available on the County’s website at 111.stancounty.com/budget/.
A public hearing before the Board of Supervisors for the consideration and adoption of the budget has been scheduled for the 6:30 p.m. meeting on Sept. 18 in the basement Board Chambers located at 1010 10th Street in Modesto.