Converting part-time San Mateo County positions to full time, improvements at county parks and plans to build a new morgue at the San Mateo Medical Center are among the line items behind a nearly $300 million increase in the proposed budget county officials are set to review for adoption later this month.
In June, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors approved a $3.2 billion recommended budget proposing a $50 million investment in affordable housing, dedicating more than $15 million to early childhood education and plans to monitor health care expenses and unfunded pension liabilities. The revisions supervisors will consider adopting Sept. 24 proposes a 9.3% increase for a budget totaling $3.5 billion with 5,850 authorized positions, according to a staff report.
Among the September revisions officials will weigh is an increase in the number of authorized positions in the county to account for an uptick in demand for county services and a need to address strategic goals, according to the report. In recent years, the county added several positions to carry out short-term and pilot initiatives. The final budget shows a net increase in the number of authorized positions in the county of 86, which reflects the addition of 119 authorized positions and the removal of 33 jobs, according to the report.
Though some change in the county’s workforce is the result of newly-added and recently-removed limited-term or extra-help positions, new posts have been created in the county’s Parks Department to address increasing operations and maintenance work and the Public Works Department to assist with the high volume of capital improvement projects, among others. The county’s Probation Department is set to add 11 new positions to facilitate enhancements to the county’s pretrial services program, which are funded by a grant from the Judicial Council of California. An additional deputy district attorney is slated to be hired in the District Attorney’s Office to address consumer fraud, a position fully funded by the Consumer Fraud Trust, according to the report.
County Manager Mike Callagy said in a press release a review of departmental needs led to the conclusion that permanent positions were needed to address increased workloads, high volumes of time-sensitive projects and improve public services.
“The use of short-term employees was and remains very valid for some positions, said Callagy in the release. “However, some positions have changed to more of an ongoing function and the retention of valuable employees in a tight market will save the county money.”
Among the factors affecting the San Mateo County Health budget are the transition of a children’s insurance product to Medi-Cal — which will reduce revenue and premium costs paid to the Health Plan on San Mateo by nearly $2.8 million — and patient care while improvements to the psychiatric facilities at the San Mateo Medical Center take shape, estimated to cost between some $800,000 to $1.6 million annually, according to the report.
Though officials are still estimating the San Mateo County Health budget to face a $52 million structural deficit for the fiscal year 2020-21, they are working on a long-term plan assessing current and future community health care needs and County Health’s workforce and network of partners, according to the report.
In the fiscal year 2019-20 and fiscal year 2020-21, $10 million and $15 million will be appropriated, respectively, toward planning and building a new morgue at the San Mateo Medical Center campus in support of the Coroner’s Office, according to the report. The new facility will consolidate the morgue and Coroner’s Office at the San Mateo Medical Center, where a campus upgrade is already in the works with the renovation of a nursing wing and central plant and demolition and replacement of an administrative building.
In an effort to enhance election security, the county’s Elections Office is slated to dedicate $300,000 toward a fence around the elections facilities on Tower Road and another $250,000 to hire a consultant to conduct a cybersecurity assessment for upcoming elections. Nearly $390,000 has been appropriated to hire more staff members to assist with elections operations in the weeks just before and after an election and another $200,000 will bolster voter outreach, according to the report.
Some $10.4 million in unspent Measure K funds from the Parks Department’s fiscal year 2018-19 budget could be dedicated to projects such as a stable hay barn construction at Wunderlich Park and baseball field renovations and other improvements at Flood Park. Measure K is half-cent sales tax for county services that the Board of Supervisors earmarked a significant portion of for housing programs.
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