May 24 2011

Piedmont Budget Workshop Highlights

The following provides highlights from the May 21,2011 Piedmont City Council Budget Workshop (not intended to be a complete summary).  Due to a shortage of time at the workshop, the Administrative/KCOM budget was not presented and will be discussed on June 6th at the regular City Council meeting. All statements refer to Fiscal Year 2011-12, unless otherwise noted.

The FY 11-12 Proposed Budget will receive further Council consideration and provide an opportunity for the public to participate on June 6. Final approval is expected on June 20, 2011.


Piedmont’s Property Tax and Parcel Tax revenue will continue to remain relatively constant, as has been the case throughout recent difficult years, generating approximately $9 million and $1.5 million, respectively.

After dropping in FY 08-09 and 09-10, the Real Property Transfer Tax has recovered in FY 10-11.  It is expected to remain steady at $2.5 million.

The total proposed budget is $21.6 million.  Proposed expenditures exceed revenues by $142,000.


$350,471 has been budgeted for both FY10-11 and 11-12, while Oakland is requesting a contribution of $596,000 per year.

Oakland’s demand is population based and 2/3’s of the amount is based on a special library parcel tax voted on by Oakland residents, but not voted on by Piedmont residents. City Administrator Geoff Grote is discussing alternative cost formulas, selling library cards to Piedmonters supplemented by a General Fund subsidy, and an agreement to keep open branches Piedmonters use.

Editor’s Note: Library access by Piedmonters is not an issue under Oakland’s current policy of offering free cards to “any California resident”; therefore any payment by Piedmont would be a voluntary contribution, rather than to obtain a benefit for residents.  See library articles.

City Administrator Geoff Grote said a multi-year contract could not be discussed unless a Piedmont Parcel Tax is passed in February, 2012 by Piedmont voters providing a funding source.


For many years the Recreation Department has paid for its programs through user fees.  Some programs, such as Schoolmates, have historically transferred revenues into, rather than out of, the General Fund.  This will no longer be the case.

An overall $235,333 deficit in the Recreation Department budget is expected for FY 2010-11, and a $310,981 deficit for FY 2011-12.

No fees will be increased for City facilities, except those for the Tea House due to its new deck.  Council Member Margaret Fujioka suggested broader marketing of the newly renovated Tea House.

Schoolmates enrollment is down due to:

  • fewer kindergartners, the primary users of Schoolmates
  • school busing to Emeryville (a temporary situation ending after FY 11-12)
  • competition from PUSD after-school enrichment programs

Changes to Schoolmates such as incorporating more enrichment activities and better coordinating with PUSD will be considered in the future.

Schoolmates will no longer contribute $55,000 to the General Fund and will, instead, have an overall deficit of $65,000 for FY 11-12.


City takeover of the pool will require a 50% taxpayer subsidy of pool operational costs:  expenditures will be $757,000, while expected revenues will be $375,000.  The difference of $382,000 will be paid by City General Funds.

The Piedmont Swim Club (PSC) Board Members and staff have been very helpful in facilitating the transition.

Due to lack of parking and local weather, the Recreation Department envisions its income stream being generated primarily from season passes, rather than daily use fees.  $225,000 is anticipated from pass sales, $125,00 from lessons and camps, and $8,000 from daily fees.

Editor’s Note: $8,000 annually from daily users could represent 400 adults, or 1600 unaccompanied youth/children, or a mix of both.  Daily fees would be generated primarily on holidays and 10 summer weekends, rather than supporting year-round pool use.  Rules were not discussed at the workshop regarding unaccompanied children or youth.

Staff pointed out that operations will not be similar to a neighborhood association pool or a country-club pool.  The Piedmont pool will have more intensive use.  Well-trained staff is essential for liability reasons.

The budget assumes pass sales of 375 and a 50% taxpayer subsidy.  Two additional revenue models for higher usewere illustrated.    Pass sales of 445 plus higher levels of daily use, camps, and lessons, result in a 45% taxpayer subsidy.  Pass sales of  675, plus even higher levels of daily use, camps, and lessons, result in a 40% taxpayer subsidy.

Negotiations by the City for payment from Piedmont High School (PUSD) teams, which use 800 hours of pool time per year, will begin this year.  The teams are supported by a $300 fee per student, plus school funds, plus Booster Club funds. The High School teams will pay $0 during the first year of City operations (continuing their previous no payment arrangement with the Piedmont Swim Club).

Hours of use by the Piedmont Swim Team (PST) were not noted, but this team utilizes a limited number of lanes, unlike PUSD teams which use the entire pool.  The PST team, which includes residents and non-residents, will pay $16,000 for year-round use for the first year of City operations (continuing the arrangement with the Piedmont Swim Club).

Payments of $35,000 by PUSD and $35,000 by the PST were listed in one of the pool operation financial models.

Editor’s Note: $35,000 would amount to $43.75 per hour for 800 hours of use.  (This assumes total available pool hours of 8,138 hours based on year-round hours of 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 12 hours each on Saturdays and Sundays.)  800 hours would represent 10% of use; 10% of operating costs would be $75,700, rather than $35,000.

Staff indicates liability insurance costs will not increase substantially due to the takeover of pool operations because the City’s insurance is based on employee payroll size, not activities.

Editor’s Note: Payroll salary and benefits for the pool will increase the City payroll by $379,00 from its current level of $10.6 million, or 4%. Liability insurance costs for FY 11-12 will increase 20%:  to $490,000 compared with $407,725 in FY 10-11.  No detail provided.

Several PSC lap swimmers spoke, emphasizing the substantial financial support for the pool provided by year-round lap swimmers, and asking that their needs be kept in mind.  One member mentioned that they have started shopping around for other swim clubs to join, such as the Hills Club, and that nearby clubs are eager to have them. Staff noted lessons had to be given priority for pool space.

The City Administrator noted that year-round operation of the pool is not guaranteed in the future.  However, closure between October 30 and February 15 would be problematic for the Piedmont Swim Team and lap swimmers.

A member of the public suggested providing the Recreation staff with a mechanism for quickly adjusting fees, since the City has no historical data to support its projections.

The pool will be marketed to nearby communities such as upper Leimert, lower Liemert, Montclair, Rockridge and Temescal.

No priority for residents in the purchase of passes, daily entrances, or an initial period of sales exclusively for residents, was discussed at the Budget Workshop.

Link: See prior pool articles; Rec Com minutes from May 4, 2011.

Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) Fund

Recommendations were presented by the CIP Committee to the City Council:

The Committee recommends soliciting public input on ideas for possible uses of the unleased wing of 801 Magnolia. 

The Committee recommends the Council keep any unused CIP dollars leftover from completed projects in the CIP fund.

The Committee recommends FY 11-12 CIP spending of:

  • $1,153,000 for Coaches Field to add artificial turf and lighting
    • $653,000 (previously allocated)
    • $500,000 in Measure WW funds*  (Piedmont’s share of East Bay Regional Park bond funds for parks and recreational facilities based on population, a one time source of funds.)
  • $34,000 for fire hydrant for Corporation Yard
  • $70,000 Ronada/Ramona Triangle (landscaping)
  • $15,000 to replace City Hall Courtyard wall
  • $75,000 for structural/seismic work for 801 Magnolia (non-leased portion only)

*The CIP Report lists $500,000 of Measure WW funds as “available funds” for Coaches Field. In response to a resident’s question of how Measure WW funds could be allocated for Coaches Field turf when there had been no public discussion of how these taxpayer funds should be spent, Mayor Dean Barbieri and Councilman Garrett Keating said there would be a future public discussion on the use of these funds.  Barbieri emphasized that no decisions on Measure WW funds had been made and, further, that the Council had not yet voted on installing artificial turf at Coaches Playfield.

A second question was raised regarding the previously allocated CIP funds totaling $220,000 for Blair Park.  The City Administrator and Finance Director Mark Bichsel responded that a $50,000 fund to improve Blair Park had been created in 2006 at the behest of Moraga Avenue residents. It had been “augmented” since 2006 with a total of $220,000 in City funds, along with another $261,000 contributed by private parties funds. The City Administrator stated the funds have been used to study Coaches Playfield lights and turf, as well as to pay CEQA legal fees for the proposed Moraga Canyon Blair Park sports complex.  A total of  $481,000 has been spend toward the proposed development and improvement of playfields in Moraga Canyon.

The City Council will vote on whether to approve these CIP recommendations.


$595,000 to purchase a fire engine and ambulance is recommended by the Fire Chief; this will be funded from the Equipment Replacement Fund (dollars set aside from General Funds in prior years).

The Fire Chief indicates he has no  plans to analyze the cost/benefits of reducing Piedmont’s current 7-person shifts to 6-person shifts used by Albany. Instead, the budget envisions three additional positions being filled, making 8 persons available to staff each 7-person shift.  This is expected to reduce overtime by $600,000, but increase salaries and benefits by $400,000.


The fee for each type of citation will be raised $5 (due to State processing fees being increased).

Crossing guard costs will increase due to new regulations on “split-shift” which require payment for the time between working hours in the morning (e.g. 8:30 to 10:00 a.m.) and the afternoon (e.g. 3:00 to 4:00.)   Council Member Garrett Keating suggested investigating alternatives which would avoid split-shifts.

The Police Chief stated that most (67%)of the users of the Police Department child seat installation service are not Piedmont residents and at least an hour of police officer time is required for each installation.  He proposes a $50 fee for non-residents who want to use the service.

Link: Proposed budget

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