Contra Costa County, California

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Transparency Grade
Budget Y
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Meetings Y
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Elected Officials Y
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Administrative Officials Y
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Permits, zoning Y
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Audits Y
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Contracts N
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Lobbying N
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Public records N
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Local taxes Y
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Transparency grading process
Contra Costa County is one of 58 counties in California. Martinez is its county seat.

County website

Main article: Evaluation of California county websites

The good

  • The names and contact information of all board of supervisors members is available.[1]
  • Board of supervisors meeting agendas and videos of sessions are published.[2]
  • The names and contact information of all administrative officials is available.[3]
  • Audit reports are published.[4]
  • Tax information is published.[5]
  • The current budget is published.[6]
  • Information on building permits and zoning is available.[7]

The bad

  • There is no information on contracts or lobbying.

Public penions

Main article: California public pensions

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility won a lawsuit against Contra Costa County in July 2009. A court ruled that the organizations are entitled to a list of names and total retirement benefits for all Contra Costa County employees receiving an annual pension of at least $100,000. The taxpayer groups argued that the records should be public because (unlike the IRA and 401k plans of private citizens), the public employee benefit plans pay a guaranteed amount and are funded by taxpayers. Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Barry Baskin ruled in favor of the groups, saying a "transparent government is the cornerstone of our democracy."[8]

To meet new public pension financing rules, Contra Costa County, along with five others, would have to dedicate all of their existing property taxes to pay for pensions or pursue municipal bankruptcy through the courts, according to a report by Moody’s municipal credit rating agency. Moody’s proposed changes in evaluating pension funds are:[9]

  • The assumed rate of return on pension fund investments will be lowered from 7.75 percent to 5.5 percent. The lower the interest rate on pension fund investments, the larger the cash contribution required by employees or counties. Public pension funds have assumed unrealistically high investment return rates based on inflation during the Mortgage Bubble.
  • Municipalities will be required to catch up on its unfunded pension liabilities in 17-years, not the 20 to 30 year period now used.
  • Full payment of borrowed principal and interest – called full amortization — will be required in making pension payments. This means that level payments will be required, not graduated payments that start low and rise over time.


Main article: California government sector lobbying

Contra Costa pays for services of the lobbying firm Alcade & Fay.[10] For 2007 and 2008, the county spent $1,632,256 on lobbying.[11]

Subsidiary Amount
Contra Costa County $1,228,398
Cities of Contra Costa County $132,000
Contra Costa Transportation Authority $76,000
Contra Costa Water District $195,858
TOTAL $1,632,256

External links


  1. Board
  2. Meetings
  3. Contacts
  4. Financial Documents
  5. Financial Documents
  6. Budget Documents
  7. Building permits
  8. Legal Newsline, "Calif. judge orders release of public pension data," July 4, 2009
  9. Fox and Hounds Daily, Moody’s New Pension Rules Would Bankrupt Six Cal Counties, Jan. 16, 2013
  10. Client List
  11. State-Level Lobbying and Taxpayers: How Much Do We Really Know?, Pacific Research Institute