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How the County budget is created

Learn about the budget process and how to provide input.

The County budget is an annual spending plan for the County’s 22 departments. The County Administrator’s Office prepares and manages it.

The budget reflects the spending and expected revenues for the upcoming fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30.

View current and past budget data

County service funding levels

The annual County budget includes mandatory and discretionary services across all County Departments. They reflect the Board of Supervisors' highest priorities:

  • Affordable housing and permanent supportive housing
  • Race equity
  • Climate change and sea level rise
  • Disaster preparedness
  • County infrastructure
  • Recruitment and retention

Most County government services are mandated (and receive funding) from the state. For example, every County in California must have a District Attorney, a Public Defender, and a Sheriff-run jail facility. 

Some County departments are also required to offer specific services. For example, every County’s Health and Human Services Department must provide Medi-Cal, food stamps enrollment, and behavioral health services to local Medi-Cal clients.

Other County services – or the specific way we offer those services – are discretionary. This means they are not required by the state.

The County’s Board of Supervisors may decide to use local funding for discretionary programs such as: 

  • Parks and recreation
  • Arts and culture
  • County facilities and infrastructure
  • Services to address homelessness

Counties may choose to fund discretionary programs in different ways. This is why some services can vary across different counties in California.

Budget development process

We develop the budget every year following a specific schedule.


The County Administrator’s Office releases budget instructions to departments. 

January and February

Departments have "mid-year" meetings with the County Administrator to review:

  • Budget trends
  • Emerging issues
  • Performance management
  • Strategic initiatives in alignment with Board priorities


The Board of Supervisors discuss the strategic initiatives during public budget hearings. These hearings usually take several days. They include a presentation of budget work plans for each department. These outline the major initiatives departments are undertaking in the upcoming fiscal year.

April and May

We finish preparing the numbers for the upcoming budget. Leftover funding from the current year is allocated to one-time needs for the next year. These are called "Budget Change Proposals."


The final County budget is presented to the Board of Supervisors.

How to provide input

We designed the budget process so community members get a chance to share their opinions and priorities. There are several ways you can provide feedback and input:

Copies of the final budget are online and available in hard copy at two locations:

  • Department of Finance, room 225
  • Public library at the Marin County Civic Center


Page updated January 19, 2024