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Budget and Operations

  1. In accordance with statutory requirements, the Commission shall adopt a proposed budget by May 1 and a final budget by June 15 of each year. Copies of the proposed and final budgets will be provided to the county and to the cities and independent special districts within the county, for comment and review. In accordance with the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Act, the proposed and final budgets shall equal the budget adopted for the previous fiscal year unless the Commission finds that reduced staffing or program costs will allow the Commission to fulfill its purposes and programs. The Commission shall approve all budgetary adjustments occurring during a fiscal year.
  2. The operating budget will cover the cost of salaries and benefits for Commission staff as well as costs associated with services and supplies necessary to carry out the Commission’s goals and policies. Revenues from funding agencies and miscellaneous sources will be included to balance the Commission’s budget. Revenues from processing fees shall be credited to the Commission’s reserve fund. The Commission shall maintain a minimum reserve fund as determined by the Commission
  3. In accordance with statutory requirements, the county, cities, and independent special districts will be responsible for funding net operating costs of the Commission. Each year, after the Commission adopts the final budget, the Sonoma County Auditor will bill each funding agency for its proportionate share of the Commission’s net expenses, according to a formula approved by funding agencies in 2004 i.e., the county will pay 40 percent of net operating costs, the cities, as a whole, will pay 40 percent of net operating costs, and the independent special districts, as a whole, will pay 20 percent of net operating costs. Statutory authority provides mechanisms for the Auditor to collect the amounts apportioned.
  4. In the event that budgeted funds are inadequate due to changing operational needs and requirements, in accordance with provisions of the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Act, the Commission may request a loan from the county, to be repaid during the next fiscal year.
    E. The Executive Officer, or upon direction, the Senior Analyst, shall serve as budget administrator to prepare, present, and transmit the budget to other agencies and to review, execute, and maintain the budget.
  5. Fund Balance: The Commission shall determine the amount of an unreserved/ undesignated fund balance to be maintained, to provide for contingency needs of the Commission. If the fund balance amount exceeds the Commission’s determination, near or at the end of a fiscal year, the Commission, upon recommendation of Commission staff, may use the fund balance in the next fiscal year.


  1. Each year, as part of the budget process, the Commission will review fees proposed by staff and adopt a fee schedule, for the purpose of recovering costs associated with proceedings taken pursuant to the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Act. With notice, the Commission may change fee amount charged at any time.
  2.  Fees are a flat charge or a deposit towards the actual cost of staff time and auxiliary charges from outside vendors. When deposits are made, the Executive Officer shall issue to the applicant, upon completion of a project, a statement detailing all expenditures in excess of the deposit, or credits, if warranted. Excess funds shall be refunded to the applicant, as appropriate, and additional funds owed will be charged; all fee amounts owed must be paid prior to recordation of a certificate of completion for a project that the Commission has approved. Should fees be owed for a project denied or terminated, the outstanding amount must be paid within 90 days of the billing date or risk collections.
  3. In accordance with the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Act, the fees will not exceed the reasonable cost of providing the service.
  4. Applications submitted to the Commission must be accompanied by a non-refundable fee or deposit, as determined from the Fee Schedule in effect at the time the application is submitted. Unless other circumstances exist or other determinations have been made, processing will not begin until the application fee or required deposit is paid in full.
  5. The Commission may waive a fee if it finds that payment is detrimental to or contrary to the public interest.
  6. If an application is withdrawn by the applicant prior to the time that the application has been publicly noticed for hearing by the Commission, one-half of the processing fees shall ordinarily be returned to the applicant. If it is shown that the cost of processing as of the date of the request for withdrawal has exceeded the processing fees paid by the applicant, the Commission may choose to deny the return of fees or return less than half of the processing fees.
  7. If the Commission denies, without prejudice, an application for a change of organization or reorganization, processing fees may be waived at the time of re-application if all of the following occur:
    1. The Commission states its intention to waive fees upon re-application at the time of denial, or staff recommends a fee waiver at the time of re-hearing.
    2. Re-application is made to the Commission not less than one year or more than 18 months from the date of denial.
    3. The re-application request for a change of organization or reorganization is substantially similar to that of the original application. The Commission may also waive fees under other circumstances as deemed appropriate by the Commission.
  8. The Commission may waive fees charged for proposals involving the consolidation, merger, reorganization or annexation of fire services agencies, where a fire services agency is the applicant. The proposals shall include the following factors:
    1. Consolidation, merger or reorganization of two or more existing fire districts. To qualify, the project must be capable of using a categorical exemption or a negative declaration for the purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act.
    2. Annexation of territory served by an existing volunteer fire department(s) or fire agency under contract to an existing fire district. To qualify, the project must be capable of using a categorical exemption or a negative declaration for the purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act.
    3. The Executive Officer determines that there is a demonstrated need to waive the fees for the fire services agency filing the application and the benefits of the project exceed the costs.