Jun 20 2021

“In reviewing the City’s long term projections and considering the current economic situation, the Committee reminds the Council of several things:

• The financial projections seek to maintain, over the long term, an 18% General Fund balance (which, the Committee thinks is prudent). Achieving this target, however, requires that the City eliminate or reduce transfers to the Facilities Maintenance Fund, which addresses ongoing and deferred maintenance of city facilities, and eliminate supplemental funding for street and sidewalk repairs beyond the current budget year. Current projections indicate the Facilities Maintenance Fund will be depleted by FY 27-28. Even without incorporating the yet to be determined costs of major capital projects referenced above, the Facilities Maintenance Fund is inadequately capitalized for the duration of the 10- year projections. This underfunding is not sustainable; it will severely affect repair and replacement expenditures within this decade.

• The Committee supports the conservative approach used to establish the budget for transfer tax revenues given their historic volatility. The Committee also supports the modest increase in projected transfer tax revenue, from the $2.8 million consistently used in the recent past, to $3.2 million annually beginning in FY23. This increased budget amount could still be attained with a recessionary pace of sales and/ or drop in sales prices given substantial gains in Piedmont home values over the past decade. The Committee recommends that to the extent actual transfer tax revenue exceeds the conservative estimate, such funds be used to fund the Facilities Maintenance Fund, consistent with prior years.

• The projected pension expenses have increased based on an updated actuarial study completed earlier this year, which assume CalPERS 2 Piedmont Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee investment returns decline to 6.0% over the next 20 years. However, future pension costs could still rise should CalPERS investment performance be below target due to a sustained downturn in financial markets.

• The prior funding of the Public Agency Retirement Services (PARS) Fund, supplemented by the proposed capital transfer from the current budget surplus, will provide the City much needed flexibility in managing future pension cost increases, as the City’s obligations are expected to increase substantially over the course of this decade. However, this flexibility may be adversely affected by stock market fluctuations to the extent there is significant decline in values during the withdrawal years.

• As in prior years, the projections continue to show that the long term financial health of the City is dependent on property-related taxes, especially the continuation of the Municipal Services Parcel Tax. The projections assume that the MSPT continues with a standard CPI adjustment each year, and the Committee supports this approach.

• The City continues to benefit from a robust economic recovery and rising Bay Area housing prices. Given the uncertainty as to how long such favorable economic conditions will persist, it is important to continue with conservative property tax and transfer tax assumptions.”

READ the entire Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Report 2021-2022

June 21 – AGENDA DETAILS: SCHEDULE AND PARTICIPATION

Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee members:

Deborah Leland, Chair

Andrew Flynn,

Cathie Geddeis,

Robert McBain,

Paul Raskin,

Frank Ryan

Vanessa Washington

May 16 2021
The Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) needs to get the revenue projections right before it starts considering new taxes.
Y = mX + b.  That’s not a typo but an equation, instantly recognizable to mathematicians as the equation for linear regression.  Put technically, the known value (X) times the slope (m) plus a fudge factor (b) estimates the unknown value (Y).   Put simply, estimate the unknown future value from the known past values.
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In the figure below, X, the horizontal axis, is years (2000-2030) and Y, the vertical axis, is the annual Real Property Transfer tax revenue in dollars (millions), collected on Piedmont home sales from 2000 to 2021.  The circles show the annual tax revenue and the blue line is the linear regression of that data out to the year 2030.
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Because linear regression is not perfect, to be safe, practitioners will take out the high and low values (outliers) and re-run the regression. The red line shows the estimated tax revenue with the two red circles removed from the regression.
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The 2009 data is the Great Recession when the tax revenue was $1.7M and the 2021 data is this year’s tax revenue (The COVID bubble?), likely to be $5M.  The lines pretty much overlay each other and show a very consistent increase in tax revenue over 20 years, with or without the outliers.

Every year, rather than rely on linear regression to estimate end of the year tax revenue, the City simply assumes revenue will be $2.8M.  And every year, the city winds up with $500,000 or more to put away into reserve funds like Facility Maintenance, Equipment Replacement or Pension Stabilization.

This year is an exception– almost a $2M surplus will be collected.  On a year-to-year basis, that may be ok – by staying on budget the city ends the year with a surplus that can be banked for long term needs.

But last year the City decided to project this $2.8 forward for 10 years – that’s the flat line in the figure – and claimed the city was facing a “deficit”.  This reasoning was offered as justification for putting Measure TT, the proposed increase in the transfer tax, on the 2020 ballot.  Measure TT failed, just in time for record transfer tax revenues.

Why this all matters is because the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) will soon convene and possibly consider what to do about the failure of TT.

The BAFPC reviews the revenue projections by staff and there’s chatter of a “Plan B” to raise more revenue.  Perhaps with a new Mayor and chairperson there will be new thinking by the BAFPC and the committee will advise staff to adopt a more accurate forecasting approach.

For example, transfer tax receipts over the past 10 years now average $3.4M annually (not including 2021) – use that value for the flat-line projection.  Better yet, perform this simple linear regression to project next year’s revenue and apportion that estimate to the three funds as needed.  The BAFPC needs to get the revenue projections right before it starts considering new taxes.

Click graph below to  enlarge.

Garrett Keating, Former City Council Member

Apr 28 2021

Virtual Town Hall featuring District 15

Assemblymember Buffy Wicks

League of Women Voters

Wednesday, May 5, 2021 5:00 – 6:30 pm

Click below for flyer and details

Final flyer- LWV Virtual Town Hall featuring Assemblymember Buffy Wicks[19714]

___________________________

Nancy O’Malley event

Thursday, May 6th, 4:00-5:00 p.m. – online media

“Perspectives on Women’s Issues”

with Nancy O’Malley, Alameda County District Attorney

On Thursday, May 6th, at 4:00 p.m., the Piedmont League of Women Voters will welcome Alameda County District Attorney, Nancy O’Malley.  She will discuss her important work with abused and homeless women, helping them move beyond trauma into a positive future.

DA O’Malley will address the many challenges COVID-19 has posed. She will also explain the ways in which the current lack of civility in politics is impeding the pace and scale of progress for women who suffer from violence. For example, passage of the Violence Against Women Act was held up due to politics, and funding for the Victims Crime Act, which provides resources to states for victims of crime, was also reduced.

Nancy O’Malley is a nationally recognized expert in issues involving violence against women, violence against persons with disabilities, and interpersonal violence including sexual assault, domestic violence, elder abuse, child abuse, stalking, and human exploitation and trafficking. She serves in an office with a national reputation for excellence dating back to former District Attorney and United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. DA O’Malley carries out this proud legacy as the first woman to serve as Alameda County’s elected District Attorney, and as a leader known throughout California and the country for her innovation and vision.

The event is free and open to all community members. To register, please go to

https://www.lwvpiedmont.org/content.aspx?page_id=4002&club_id=601389&item_id=1256825.

You can watch DA O’Malley’s presentation live on Zoom or on our YouTube channel. The event is free and open to all community members. It will be recorded and posted on the League of Women Voters of Piedmont website for those who cannot join live.

Apr 27 2021

Unique Opportunity to Observe Your City Council Members During the Workshop

Special City Council Meeting

Thursday, April 29, 2021 9:00 a.m. Via Teleconference

Computer or smart phone: https://piedmont-ca-gov.zoom.us/j/83121532252

Telephone: Dial (669) 900-9128 and enter webinar/meeting number 831-2153-2252

Piedmonters will be able to view and participate in the Council virtual “Team Building Workshop” from home or elsewhere.

Click below for instructions on how to observe and participate.

Council Team Building Agenda 2021-04-29

 

Apr 17 2021

How does the City Council plan to oversee the use of the City owned property at 801 Magnolia Avenue?

While seniors decry the lack of senior programing and voice a need for a Senior Center in Piedmont, private business use has taken priority over public use limiting public use.

Approval of a new lease with the Art Center Board indicates various Council policies are needed:

  • Policy decision authority retained by the Council, the ultimate landlord
  • Guaranteed inclusion rather than exclusion of legitimate non-profit uses of the facility 
  • Council oversight of compliance by all users with local, state, and federal laws including: municipal, state, federal taxes, 501c3 non-profit status, workers compensation, ADA compliance, anti-discrimination, incorporation documentation, valid business licenses and  prohibition of political activities on the premises
  • Accounting of space utilization and ongoing consideration of lost City revenue
  • Evaluation and accountability of liability, risks, and costs to the City by each user and provision of appropriate insurance coverages
  • Semi-annual reports to Council on diversity of users, uses, financial statements, compliance with City policies, and City obligations
  • Staff Annual reports to Council on building structural integrity, safety measures, maintenance, ADA compliance, and interior and exterior upkeep expenditures
  • Required Council approval for all commercial subleases extending over two weeks
  • Council adoption of written conditions required for all sublets 
  • Prohibition of Art Center Board members and advisors to sublet the property for more than two weeks per year
  • Prompt staff reports to Council concerning issues arising from the lease or sublets 
  • Public access to financial records, board meetings, and minutes of Art Center Board
  • Adoption of comprehensive Council policies governing the use and rental of all Piedmont public properties

Piedmonters, owners of 801 Magnolia Avenue, have been awaiting invitations to observe Board meetings and receive regular financial reports from their tenant.  The Piedmont Center for the Arts Board is composed of well-meaning, generous, local residents of Piedmont and Oakland who may have overlooked their obligation to keep Piedmont citizens informed in a transparent manner of the use of this important public asset.

Mar 31 2021

The 801 Magnolia Avenue building would be the perfect place for a Senior Center.

I am amazed that there is no Senior Center in Piedmont and the 801 Magnolia building would be the perfect place to have such a center.  We who live here and have helped build this community have nowhere to go in Piedmont. 

There is a Senior meeting held once a month (during non-Covid times) that does not engage the community very well. 

Seniors need to be able to get together in their own communities for arts, crafts, exercise, classes, excursions and social engaging. Those of us who still live here need to go outside the community for such endeavors, now and as Covid is still strongly present, I have realized the lack of such in our community.

Carol Warren, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Mar 30 2021

A Community Room for Piedmont at 801 Magnolia Avenue?

How should the public 801 building be used? Public or Private purposes?

If I read the tea leaves right, City Council won’t be holding any public hearings on the use of the 801 Magnolia Building. City staff has negotiated the lease renewal behind closed doors and there seems to be a majority on Council that couldn’t be bothered with public input on matters other than the lease.  That’s too bad because over the years residents have proposed creative ideas for 801 and were Council to engage in an open conversation with its constituents it would lead to better use of the building.

So if the West Wing is lost, let’s talk about the East Wing.  It’s a pretty utilitarian space with a series of cubicles left over from its days as a Sunday School Building.  Sort of a conference room with cubby holes.  Others have commented that the East Wing is well-suited for tutoring, historical displays, and other small group activities.   It might hold 20 comfortably around a conference table or more dispersed throughout the room. A that capacity, it is perfect for a community room. Many cities offer such rooms in libraries or municipal buildings at no or little cost to residents and non-profits.  Open the doors to the East Wing and Piedmonters will find a way to use it.

For that to happen, two things need to occur. First, city staff needs to occupy the offices in the West Wing.  Based on my time on Council, staff has every reason to do this – City Hall is packed to the rafters – or more accurately the basement – and staff was always asking for appropriations to rehab the downstairs.   Why do that when there is perfectly good office space in 801?  But more to the point, having the City occupy the West Wing offices would put staff in proximity to an East Wing community room which would enable public use of the room, particularly as a drop-in center.  Staff would be on hand to “chaperon” the space.  In my experience Piedmonters don’t need chaperoning but I suspect this would be required legally. 

Second, the Piedmont Center for the Arts (PCA) needs to agree to City use of the office space.  That may be hard for PCA to do.  The current tenant of the office is an ex-board member of PCA who was given a below-market rent for the space. Abrogating that arrangement could lead to some bad press for PCA.  The proposed lease for 801 currently has PCA retaining control of the office spaces in the West Wing which it will presumably continue to rent to the ex-board member.  Why should PCA be allowed to rent a public space at below market rates while the City charges higher rates to other non-profits?  If PCA does not need the office space for its own programming, then let the City use the space for its needs.

Surveys of the community have consistently shown that residents want more gathering spaces in the civic center area, be it public or commercial space.  The East Wing offers an excellent opportunity to meet this need and Council should consider how use of the West Wing could facilitate operation of a drop-in center in the East Wing.

  Residents with ideas on how the 801 Building should be used should contact City Council at:

citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.gov.

.
Garrett Keating, Former Member Piedmont City Council 
Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Mar 30 2021

The City Council talked to candidates for hours on March 29, 2021, before diligently considering who to appoint to each available position.  The public meeting allowed viewers via Zoom to see the Council struggle amongst the talented group of applicants.  Residents should be pleased by the conscientious selection process. The meeting lasted for four hours, and in the end with one motion a slate was approved unanimously by the Council.  Service on the bodies is for 3 year terms as volunteers.

Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee: Robert McBain and Vanessa L. Washington

Civil Service Commission: Laura Isaacs and Michael Reese*

Park Commission:  Amber Brumfiel* and Patty Dunlap*

Public Safety Committee:  Stella Ngai and Jeffrey Horner*

Recreation Commission:  Rebecca Posamentier and Lisa Gardner

CIP Review Committee: Sharon Shoshani

Police & Fire Pension Board & City Investment Subcommittee: Robert Dickinson

* Incumbent

Mar 28 2021

Open Meeting: Monday, 6 pm March 29, 2021 

Interview Schedule 2021-03-29  <

  AGENDA >  City Council Agenda 2021-03-29 (Special)                * Incumbent

Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (2 Vacancies)

6:15 p.m. Vanessa L. Washington

6:20 p.m. Jill Tanner (Also applied for Public Safety)

6:25 p.m. Robert Dickinson (Also applied for Housing Advisory, Planning)

Robert McBain (Also applied for Police & Fire Pension Board)

Michael Reese* (Also applied for Civil Service, Public Safety)

BAFP 2021_Redacted    Applications

Civil Service Commission (2 Vacancies)

6:30 p.m. Amy Kelly

6:35 p.m. Laura Isaacs

Michael Reese* (Also applied for Budget Advisory, Public Safety)

Civil Service 2021_Redacted   Applications

Park Commission (2 Vacancies)

6:40 p.m. Sharon Shoshani

6:45 p.m. Jenny Feinberg (Also applied for Recreation)

Amber Brumfiel*

Patty Dunlap*

Park 2021_Redacted Applications

6:50 p.m. BREAK

Public Safety Committee (2 Vacancies)

7:00 p.m. Jamie Totsubo

7:05 p.m. Michael Reese (Also applied for Budget Advisory, Civil Service)

7:10 p.m. Stella Ngai

7:15 p.m. Sara Kaplan

Jeffrey Horner*

Jill Tanner (Also applied for Budget Advisory)

Public Safety 2021_Redacted Applications

Recreation Commission (2 Vacancies)

7:20 p.m. Brooke Wall

7:25 p.m. Rebecca Posamentier

7:30 p.m. Mike McConathy

7:35 p.m. Lisa Gardner

7:40 p.m. Caroline Davis

7:45 p.m. Derek Cheung

Jenny Feinberg (Also applied for Park)

Recreation 2021_Redacted  Applications

CIP Review Committee (1 Vacancy) No Applicants

Police & Fire Pension Board & City Investment Subcommittee (1 Vacancy)

Robert McBain (Also applied for Budget Advisory)

Police & Fire Pension 2021_Redacted   Application

Interview Schedule 2021-03-29  <

 

 

Mar 28 2021

On March 22, 2021, the City Council appointed Doug Strout to the Planning Commission and an alternate Planning Commissioner Justin Zucker.  Also, the Council appointed 5 members to the new Housing Advisory Committee, Rani Batra, from the Planning Commission, June Catalano, Jane Lin, Justin Osler, and Claire Parisa.

Interview Schedule 2021-03-22   Unannounced

Planning 2021_ Applications [Redacted by City Clerk]

Housing Advisory 2021_ Applications [Redacted by City Clerk]

WATCH THE MEETING  >https://piedmont.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=2318  Video of 3/22/2021 Special Council meeeting

Readers are advised to watch the interviews and meeting now.  A public meeting notice was not provided to media sites, including this one, an error noted by the City. Interested individuals could not know the March 22, 2021 meeting was taking place unless they checked the Police Department Bulletin Board * 24 hours prior to the meeting. 

*Correction from the City Clerk: The agenda was posted in three locations, the city’s web site, City Hall (we’re posting on the front door, as the bulletin boards are not accessible to the public because of COVID), and the Police Department. Residents who went to any of these locations would have seen the agenda, not just individuals going to the Police Department.  City Clerk John Tulloch 3/29/2021

PCA Editors Comment:  PCA’s goal is for transparency, public information and public involvement.  The California Brown Act, requires agendas to be timely distributed to requesting media outlets.  PCA, a media outlet, received no notice.  The City Clerk has apologized for the noticing error. 3/30/021

More to follow in the future on the process.