Counting the County’s Cash

Things are looking up for Santa Cruz County as the Board of Supervisors has approved a spending plan for their overall proposed budget of $1.598 million. On June 25th, the Board unanimously approved the County’s first ever two year budget. This two-year proposed budget is an overall more efficient and effective means to achieve our financial goals. By projecting expenditures for the following fiscal year, the county is able to comprehensively prepare for adjustments to the budget throughout the year which limits a month of budget hearings to once every two years instead of every year.

The 2019-20 budget reduces spending by 10% and the 2020-21 budget has an expected reduction of 2%. This lead to a total of 12% in spending reductions throughout the two years. There is a total decrease of 5% in recommended expenditures from the 2018-19 adopted budget mainly due to a reduction in capital project and special revenue funds from completed projects. These reductions include:

  • Reduced Special Revenue funds $16.5 million
  • Reduced Enterprise and Special District funded projects of $19.3 million
  • Reduced Internal Service Fund of $17.2 million
  • Reduced Capital Project Funds of $12.6 million


Highlights in the budget include increases in salaries, benefits, services, and supplies to improve safety in the jails. Public Safety and Justice increased by 5.1% from the adopted 2018-19 budget which corresponds with this week’s Santa Cruz Sentinel article discussing the increase of meth appearing in the Santa Cruz County Jail. This will result in an increase in salaries, benefits, services, and supplies to improve safety in the jails. Other notable budget changes include the 5.4% increase in Health and Human Services and 72.6% decrease in Capital Projects “resulting from the anticipated completion of several grant-funded projects”. Furthermore, the 2019-20 increased by 3% from the adopted 2018-19 budget as a result of 22 new staff positions and an increase in salaries, benefits, services, and supplies for existing staff. The total budget decreased by 5.2% from the 2018-19 adopted budget which accounts for a decrease in revenues. In addition, the county is planning for an increase in retirement costs and other shortfalls in the budget over the next couple of years.


 The Measure G half-cent transaction tax has provided $11.3 million in taxes. As new costs arise, the county will begin to look into new potential revenue sources similar to Measure G such as “an increase to the transient occupancy tax which could generate about $1 million for every 1% increase in the rate”. An overall $1.6 billion is planned for the total budget through July 2021. 

The Board of Supervisors meet on most Tuesdays at 9:00 am in the Board of Supervisors’ Chambers.


You can view the budget’s recommended expenditures here: