May 16 2013

Council Asks for More Information on Budget

At the City Council 2013-14 Budget Work Session on May 11, information and questions were presented.

During the public forum, Tim Rood asked when Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization (PRFO) was going to repay the City for the $125,000 expenses promised in regard to Blair Park.  He also wanted to know when the City planned to spend its $500,000 portion of the Measure WW Park Bond funds.   And he inquired when the Piedmont Hills Utilities Undergrounding District (PHUUD) Board was going to pay their pledged amount of $1o0,000 to the City.  The City had contracted for the undergrounding project and allowed the risk and unexpected cost of  approximately $2.5 million to fall to all City taxpayers rather than the property owners in the PHUUD benefiting from the project.

City Administrator Geoff Grote, in his overview of the budget, emphasized the generally strong financial condition of the City.  Much of the City’s improved fiscal condition can be attributed to increased property tax revenues, the passage of the City parcel tax measure, and revenues from the property transfer tax.  As properties change hands, the City reaps a benefit of new valuations of property, plus the transfer tax.

The Police Department is proposing a new civilian position to handle administrative and Information Technology (IT) functions.  On June 3, a comprehensive Facilities Maintenance Inventory and Implementation Plan is due and will allow assessment of future needs.

Employee benefits and compensation costs continue to require control and monitoring. The City Sewer Fund, long a source of  funding for the Public Works Department and implementation of federally required improvements related to water quality, is experiencing a decreasing balance.  More information on the fund will be developed to allow the Council to consider further steps to remain in compliance with federal laws.

During the budget review, the Council directed staff to provide the following information:

Recreation Department — include on a City Council agenda for next October, a report detailing: the impacts of the proposed increases in aquatic fees;  swim lesson revenue; a breakdown of aquatic City Council Budget Work Session related expenses; the cost associated with having the pool open for so many hours/days during the year; and how many lap swimmers utilize the pool on a regular basis.  The Schoolmates program does not pay for itself, consequently consideration will be given to increasing the hourly charge to users.

Police Department  — consider for next fiscal year (FY 14-15) increasing Animal Control Officer fees for the City of Emeryville.

Fire Department  — determine the cost effectiveness of modifying the
Department’s apparatus bay doors and driveway in order to increase the number of manufacturers that would be able to supply a fire ladder truck to the City and, as a consequence, generate more and potentially lower bids for fire truck purchase.  The fire house doors are lower than standard thus requiring custom built ladder trucks.

Public Works Department — provide the number of miles of paved streets in town and how many of these streets were paved over the last 10 years.  Residents have frequently wondered when streets in disrepair would be repaved.

• Administration-– provide: historical data regarding full and parttime employee positions; a list of staffing positions that are currently vacant; cost estimates for: a City “mail-in ballot” process for municipal elections; and consolidating the City’s municipal election with the State’s general election; check with the County Registrar’s office if the City could have both a “mail-in” ballot process along with one polling place within the City.

• Non-Departmental — determine if: the proposed 5% increase in Workers Comp. Insurance premiums is sufficient for FY 13-14; whether the City has the option of being self-insured for Unemployment Insurance; and re-examine if the FY 11/12 figure
of $352,841 for Library is correct (page 2-a under Tab 1)

The Council appointed Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) has held several meetings to examine budget details.   CalPERS side fund, sewer fund, license plate readers, and other issues are being examined.  The BAFPC will make a formal recommendation to the City Council to be considered at the budget public hearings.  The Council’s first hearing is scheduled for June 3 and second June 17, at which time the budget is expected to be approved.

Comments on budget considerations can be sent to the City Council at:

John Chiang, Mayor (510) 655-2959
Margaret Fujioka, Vice Mayor (510) 463-7821
Garrett Keating (510) 566-1481
Robert McBain (510) 547-0597
Jeff Wieler (510) 428-1648

Or email the entire City Council via the City Clerk at:

Click here to view the proposed budget.

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