Financial report shows county has robust economy, healthy budget


San Mateo County has the lowest unemployment rate in the state and steadily rising home prices, with property tax revenues going up in tandem, the just-released annual county financial report says.

In June, the report from county controller Juan Raigoza said, the county's unemployment rate was 3.3 percent, down from 4.2 percent a year earlier. The county's unemployment rate was much lower than the state rate of 6.2 percent as well as the national rate of 5.3 percent, and was the lowest of any county in California in June, the report says.

Housing prices are steadily increasing in San Mateo County, with the median single-family home price going up 12.8 percent to $1.3 million from June 2014 to June 2015, the report says.

Commercial real estate rental prices were also up, with the average rent going up by 14.9 percent from June 2014 to June 2015 -- to $4.40 per square foot.

That translated to a $10.5 million increase in property tax revenues for the fiscal year, the report says. The county also had a $7.4 million increase in sales and use taxes, including $5 million in sales taxes due to Measure A, a 10-year, additional half-cent sales tax approved by the voters in 2012 that is to fund county facilities and services.

The report also says that the latest figures on income in the county, which are from 2013, show that while the per capita personal income was on the rise, increasing by 7.1 percent to $79,893 over the rate a year earlier, the county's estimated median family income decreased to $88,202, a 9.7 percent decrease from the previous year. The report says the median family income has been decreasing since 2010.

This means the affordability index, a metric put together by the National Association of Realtors, for San Mateo County shows the median county income is only 13 percent of the income needed to buy the median-priced county home. The Bay Area's affordability index is 20 percent. The state's is 30 percent and the nation's is 57 percent, the report says.

The report also shows that the public school population of the county has grown to 95,187 in 2015, up 3.3 percent from 2014.

It also says that implementation of the Affordable Care Act in San Mateo County "has been a great success." By the end of the 2015 enrollment period, the report says, approximately 91 percent of county residents were insured, with 31,000 additional residents enrolled in Medi-Cal and 32,000 in subsidized private health insurance.

The report says that the outlook for the coming year is also good, with the overall assessed value of property in the county expected to grow by 7.7 percent in the 2015-16 fiscal year. That would generate $21.6 million in additional general fund revenue for the county, the report says.

"In the near term, the forecasted low unemployment rate, steady growth in gross domestic product, and local indicators such as growth in the technology business sector and continued growth in property tax revenues will allow the county to maintain its sound finances if prudently managed," the report says.

The county's approved budget for 2015-16 is $2.5 billion.

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Like this comment
Posted by Chuck
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 11, 2015 at 10:38 pm

With housing sale prices increasing so much why should our property tax rate remain the same as related to this higher value? Yes, this gives our County more dollars to spend but should not the tax rate be reduced especially when the property taxes far exceed the dollars needed to support our County services?

1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 12, 2015 at 8:42 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Here's a novel idea. Instead of reducing tax rates because of a robust economy, how about we take the surplus and set it aside for the next recession. One will come. Then we won't have to scrimp, cut services, etc when that happens. I know the idea of saving money in today's society is anathema, but it's worth discussing.

1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 12, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" how about we take the surplus and set it aside for the next recession."

This is exatly what the Fire District does - it has a Reserve for future CalPERS assessments (the budgeted employer rate is set at a higher rate than the actual current rate and the difference is allocated to this reserve fund) and a Reserve for future revenue short falls -the Budgetary Deficit Reserve.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 12, 2015 at 7:25 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.


to bad the county and the rest of the cities served by the fire district don't follow the district's sound financial planning. Hopefully Calpers won't repeat its mistake of cutting retirement funding requirements from the municipalities it serves.

2 people like this
Posted by Stats
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Dec 14, 2015 at 11:26 am

A rainy day fund is a great idea, but it also makes sense to use some of the the new proceeds to make housing more affordable for civic workers that aren't riding the housing appreciation elevator. The same appreciation of properties, taxes and rents that giveth, taketh away from these employees. And I, for one, believe that a city is better served by workers who live in the same city.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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