May 10 2011

Municipal Tax Review Committee News – MAY 4, 2011

A Report Submitted by Michael Rancer, Chair of the 2011 Municipal Tax Review Committee

On Wednesday, May  4, the Municipal Tax Review Committee held a study session with city staff to review the City Administrator’s FY 2011-12 budget proposal to the Council.  The meeting was devoted primarily to a presentation by City Administrator Grote and Finance Director Bichsel, commingled with questions by members of the Tax Review Committee.

The presentation and discussion identified several critical budget issues that face the city in the coming year.  Although the proposed budget covers the fiscal year beginning this July 1, decisions made now will have a significant impact on city finances during the life of the next parcel tax, which will last at least four years beginning July 1, 2013.

The major issues discussed include the following:

Program decisions such as

  • City operation of the pool
  • Long term operation & maintenance of Blair Park and other recreation facilities
  • Level of contribution to the Oakland Public Library

Structural budget questions involving

  • Needed equipment replacement and capital maintenance
  • Long term trend of declining fund balances
  • Impact of long term commitments to employee benefits (retirement, health insurance)

Effect of immediate budget decisions in FY 2011-12 including

  • Position vacancies
  • Frozen salaries

The costs of external mandates, particularly recent regulatory requirements concerning water quality imposed on East Bay MUD and the cities that feed storm water into the regional system.  This issue will have a significant effect on the calculation of Piedmont’s sewer tax.

The committee will begin tackling these issues at its May 11 meeting.  Agenda items will include reports from subcommittees on expenditure, revenue, capital budget and the sewer tax; beginning of a discussion on staffing and budgets in comparable cities; and further discussion of current employee benefits in Piedmont.

Interested citizens should also note that the Piedmont City Council will hold a public workshop on the budget on Saturday, May 21.

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