May 17 2020

READ the City Council COVID -19 EMERGENCY ORDER Confirmation of Emergency Order #2020-01

May 6 2020

Bond Measure on November 2020 Ballot ?

Community participation in setting priorities ?

The Piedmont Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) has recently been charged by the Piedmont City Council with coming up with ways to fund Piedmont public projects. 

According to public comments, funding is possibly a bond measure for the November 3, 2020 Piedmont ballot.  The Council will need to make a decision on placing a bond measure on the November ballot no later than August. 

To date, there have been no public meetings or surveys to determine the list of desired projects which Piedmonters would favor. 

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have already been spent by the City Council on consultants and staff work proposing and planning special recreation projects.  Recreation projects have focused on a new Municipal Pool and Aquatic Center, Linda Beach Park play areas, and Coaches Field.  Other city facilities are also on a priority list. 

Very recently, 20th century Fire and Police facilities and readiness have been added to the Council list of possible projects needing funding sources. Public input has not been solicited on these projects. 

Infrastructure improvements to roadways, sidewalks, curbs and gutters and  undergrounding of overhead wires are not listed on the City Council priority list for funding.

Where is the money going to come from?

BAFPC to advise the City Council on funding sources.

For the first time, at-home citizens will be able to view and participate in the BAFPC deliberations and recommendations. Typically, the meetings have been held away from cameras with no minutes produced of the meetings.  The BAFPC Chair generally writes the Committee recommendations that are forwarded to the City Council. 

The Committee advises on tax levies, bond measures, financial planning, and budgetary matters. See items listed on the May 7, 2020 meeting agenda below.

Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee Thursday, May 7, 2020 7:00 p.m. Via Teleconference

Members of the public can participate in the meeting by:

Computer or smart phone: Click https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88058053315

Telephone: Dial (669) 900-9128 and enter webinar/meeting number 880-5805-3315

Full meeting agenda and participation details click below:

 2020-05-07 Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee.

Back-up documentation and staff reports for the agenda have not been publicly disseminated. 

 Relevant prior staff report:

42020Consideration of Actions Related to the Planning Process for Possible City Facility Renovation Projects

Apr 18 2020

Does COVID-19 change Piedmont’s priorities for spending?

Are Piedmonters interested in taxing themselves further for additional city expenditures?

Year after year, Piedmont taxpayers have generously approved bond measures for school facilities and parcel taxes for school and city operations.  Currently, there are no voter approved city bonds.

The Piedmont City Council’s long list of capital projects for new expenditures without sufficient funding include extensive new and revised recreation facilities, the municipal pool, playgrounds, etc.  Also on the list are improvements to City Hall, Police Department, Fire Department and other municipal facilities.  Not on the list for improvements are streets, sidewalks and undergrounding of utility wires.

Streets and Sidewalks:

During COVID-19 restrictions, many Piedmonters are walking or running on Piedmont’s streets and sidewalks to get exercise and recreate One cannot help but notice the many cracked, lifted, eroded, and dangerous sidewalks in the city.  Many streets have faulty pavement and have not been repaved in decades. Curbs and gutters on numerous streets have lacked care, thus leaving pools of water and uneven surfaces.

Most funding for Piedmont sidewalks and street resurfacing comes from outside sources.

The City of Piedmont is charged with and oversees the maintenance of the city’s streets and sidewalks.  The city owns Piedmont’s beautiful street trees and is responsible for damage caused by these trees to sidewalks and gutters. Property owners are not allowed to trim or remove street trees.  Changes by residents to sidewalks and gutters require city permits.

Street Infrastructure Maintenance & Replacement

“The City’s FY 2019-20 budget for street infrastructure maintenance and replacement is $1.4 million. Funding sources include Measure B, Measure BB, Measure F, and the Gas Tax, which also now includes funds from SB-1 that was recently approved by the state legislature. The majority of available funding is dedicated to street resurfacing and sidewalk repair work, with the balance dedicated to important sub-categories such as the implementation of projects prioritized by the approved Pedestrian & Bicycle Master Plan, and those related to the Complete Streets program.” Piedmont 2019-20 Budget

Undergrounding of Utility Wires:

Most areas in Piedmont do not utility wires placed underground, yet undergrounding of utilities has been deemed an important mechanism for providing safety during fires and earthquakes.  Undergrounding is also considered a highly desired aesthetic improvement to Piedmont.  No money is set aside in the Piedmont budget for undergrounding projects.

Consultant for City Selected Projects

Currently, the Council is looking toward a city bond measure to finance either partially or totally their long list of selected improvements or changes to city facilities including the Municipal Pool, Playfields, city facilities – police, fire departments, etc.  Streets, sidewalks and underground utilities are not on the city list.

An expenditure of $50,000 to hire a consultant related to the Planning Process for Possible City Facility Renovation Projects will be undertaken at the April 20, 2020, City Council meeting.  Public outreach would be part of the process.

——-

Due to the COVID 19 Stay at Home order, the April 20 Council meeting will be a virtual meeting, and as such will only be available online.  Piedmonters can participate via the online connections as described on the agenda below:

4202020 council-current-agenda (1)

READ the staff report below to see the select list of projects identified and proposed process.

42020Consideration of Actions Related to the Planning Process for Possible City Facility Renovation Projects

Want to make a comment or suggestion to the City Council prior to the meeting?

Address your comments to the City Council as a whole:

cityclerk@piedmont.ca.gov

OR

Address your comments to individual councilmembers:

http://piedmont.hosted.civiclive.com/cms/One.aspx?portalId=13659823&pageId=15698089

Apr 6 2020

April 6, 2020 report to the Piedmont City Council on the COVID-19 impacts to the city.

Report on the Impacts of the COVID 19 Emergency on the City of Piedmont

Mar 15 2020

CITY CLOSURES

The City of Piedmont is joining State and County efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, following recommendations to limit exposure and slow transmission of the virus by closing all City facilities to the public and suspending all City programs through March 29th. These measures to severely limit possibilities for transmission are to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our community during the rapidly changing COVID-19 health emergency.

City services remain operational, but facilities will be closed to the public for non-essential functions.

City facilities closed to the public include:

• Piedmont City Hall
• Piedmont Police Department
• Piedmont Fire Department
• Piedmont Recreation Department
• Veterans Memorial Building
• Schoolmates Sites
• Kennelly Skatepark
• Piedmont Community Hall
• Lower Level Community Hall
• Piedmont Community Pool
• Piedmont Center for the Arts
• 801 Magnolia East Wing
• Piedmont Playschool at Hampton Park
• Dress Best for Less Marking Room (Carriage House)

All Recreation Programs are postponed/cancelled through March 29 including:

• Minimates
• Schoolmates
• All Preschool Classes and Programs
• All After-School Enrichment Classes and Programming
• Aquatics Programming including all swim lessons, water aerobics, facility rentals, and lap swimming
• Adult Drop-in Sports, including Basketball, Tennis and Pickleball
• Adult and Senior programming, including Yoga and Walking on Wednesdays
• Bunny Blast
• Egg Dive

The goal of these measures is to continue to provide as many services as possible while minimizing in-person contact. City Hall will provide access to the public for essential City meetings, and by appointment only for essential services.

For service at City Hall, please phone or email one of the contacts listed below.

• Public Works: 510-420-3050 or cnakahara@piedmont.ca.gov
• Planning & Building: 510-420-3050 or kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov
• City Clerk’s Office: 510-420-3040 or largue@piedmont.ca.gov

To schedule an appointment with a Planning & Building staff member, please contact Mark Enea at 510-420-3051 or menea@piedmont.ca.gov

For questions or assistance at City facilities, please contact the following:
• Recreation Department: 510-420-3070 or prd@piedmont.ca.gov
• Veterans Hall: John Wilk 510-420-3089 or jwilk@piedmont.ca.gov
• Community Hall: John Wilk 510-420-3089 or jwilk@piedmont.ca.gov
• 801 Magnolia East Wing:  John Wilk 510-420-3089 or jwilk@piedmont.ca.gov
• Piedmont Community Pool: Jackson Stearns 510-420-3075 or jstearns@piedmont.ca.gov or Zoe Clavere at zclavere@piedmont.ca.gov

You can also visit the Services and Departments page of our website for contact information for all departments. 

Mar 13 2020

Piedmont CIP Review Committee Behind-the-Scenes Tours of City Facilities Postponed –

TO CHECK FOR RESCHEDULED MEETINGS CONTACT:

Nancy Kent, Parks & Project Manager, via email at nkent@piedmont.ca.gov or phone at (510) 420-3064.

The CIP Review Committee tours scheduled for Saturday, March 21, to discuss Piedmont’s Essential Services buildings, and Saturday, April 4, to discuss the state of recreation related infrastructure, are postponed.

The City will offer the CIP Review Committee and members of the public rescheduled tours of the current facilities to better understand the challenges and limitations of the City’s aging infrastructure.

The dates for the rescheduled tours have not been determined at this time.

—– MEETINGS ARE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC —-

Over the next six weeks, Piedmont’s Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) Review Committee will host three Saturday meetings with behind-the-scenes tours of City facilities not often seen by members of the public (POSTPONED).  There will also be six discussion/decision meetings.  See schedule below.

Tours and meetings are not broadcast, however they are open to public participation.

*Resident proposals are due March 23, 2020. Forms and instructions can be found on the City website: https://piedmont.ca.gov/government/city_news___notifications/cip_resident_proposals_sought

In addition to the customary tour of resident proposals on April 25 , the CIP Review Committee will hold two additional Saturday (POSTPONED) meetings with comprehensive tours to provide the community with a better and broader understanding of the City’s aging public infrastructure.

On Saturday, March 21, (POSTPONED) the CIP Review Committee will meet at 9:00 am in the Police Department Conference Room to discuss Piedmont’s Essential Services buildings which include the Fire Department, the Police Department, and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

After Police Chief Jeremy Bowers and Fire Chief Bret Black make presentations and answer questions from the CIP Review Committee, there will be group tours of both the Police and Fire Departments as well as the basement of City Hall.

Please note that the meetings and tours are geared toward residents age 16 and older, and are not to be confused with a Piedmont Fire Department Open House.

On Saturday, April 4, (POSTPONED) the CIP Review Committee will meet at the Recreation Department at 9:00 am to discuss the state of recreation related infrastructure including the Piedmont Community Pool, the Recreation Department building, Veterans Hall, Linda Beach Park and Coaches Field.

After a brief summary presentation, the CIP Review Committee and members of the public will have the opportunity to explore the current facilities to better understand the challenges and limitations of the City’s aging infrastructure.

The City of Piedmont and the CIP Review Committee encourage residents to participate in this rare opportunity and hope that the meetings and tours are well-attended by members of the public.

If you have questions regarding the CIP tours or meeting schedule, please contact Nancy Kent, Parks & Project Manager, via email at nkent@piedmont.ca.gov or phone at (510) 420-3064.

2020 CIP Review Committee Schedule

Tue 3/10 7:00 pm (COMPLETED) Regular Meeting PPD EOC 403 Highland Avenue Public Safety

Sat 3/21 9:00 am (POSTPONED) Regular Meeting PPD EOC 403 Highland Avenue and Essential Services Community Tours

Tue 3/24 7:00 pm (CANCELLED) Regular Meeting City Hall 120 Vista Avenue Recreation Facilities Conference Room

Tue 3/31 7:00 pm (CANCELLED) Regular Meeting City Hall 120 Vista Avenue Resident Proposals Conference Room

Sat 4/4 9:00 am (POSTPONED) Regular Meeting PRD 358 Hillside Avenue and Recreation Related Community Tours Schedule:

  • 9:15 am PRD Rec Dept. Attic to Basement – 358 Hillside Avenue
  • 9:45 am Piedmont Community Pool – 777 Magnolia Avenue
  • 10:30 am Veterans Hall – 401 Highland Avenue
  • 11:15 am Linda Beach Park – 400 Linda Avenue
  • 12 Noon Coaches Field – 898 Red Rock Road

Tue 4/7 7:00 pm (CONTINUING) Regular Meeting City Hall 120 Vista Avenue Resident Proposals Conference Room

Tue 4/21 7:00 pm (CONTINUING) Regular Meeting City Hall 120 Vista Avenue Conference Room

Sat 4/25 9:00 am (CONTINUING) Regular Meeting and Tour Details TBA

Members of the public can continue to remain informed regarding mass gatherings by reviewing California Department of Health’s Guidance on Mass Gatherings. The City is asking members of the public to considering these Steps to Prevent Illness when deciding whether to attend any City meeting.

Feb 23 2020

Committee to consider ways to fund Piedmont facilities.

Extensive plans for the Piedmont Municipal Pool, Coaches Field, Linda Beach Park, and other facilities have been undertaken by the city. A method of funding the millions of dollars necessary to move the projects forward is under consideration at the:

Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee, Thursday, February 27, 2020, 7:00 p.m., Emergency Operations Center, 403 Highland Avenue, Piedmont, CA

The meetings are never broadcast and minutes are not kept of the meetings.  Members of the Committee do not file conflict of interest statements.

AGENDA:

Public Forum This is an opportunity for members of the audience to speak on an item not on the agenda. The 10 minute period will be divided evenly between those wishing to address the Committee.

Regular Agenda
1. Review of FY 2019-20 Mid-Year Fiscal Report
2. Discussion of Potential Financing Options for Improvement of City Facilities
3. Consideration of Scheduling Future Meetings

As of this publication, no materials related to an item on the agenda of the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee meeting have been publicly made available. 

May 16 2019

City Administrator Paul Benoit describes Piedmont’s financial state.

“Piedmont’s financial position, year over year, can be described as ‘STABLE’ at best.”

Maintaining stability requires significant discipline and focus and we have done a good job of it. In recent years we have been working hard to look beyond simply maintaining stable services, and have been exploring opportunities to meet the needs of the future and to improve both the quality and delivery of services. Piedmont is facing, and will continue to face, significant and costly challenges that will need to be addressed – and most are related to the condition of public facilities and infrastructure.

Relative to the City Budget and our ability to make needed investments, it is important to recognize that Piedmont’s General Fund is dominated by property-related taxes, which make up nearly 70% of total revenue. Property based taxes are fairly predictable, with the exception of the Real Estate Transfer Tax.

Because City revenue is derived primarily from property related taxes we are able to make long-term budget projections with a good degree of confidence; additionally, it limits our exposure to the risks associated with significant swings in revenue, such as those experienced by cities heavily reliant on sales taxes.

On the downside we have little ability to increase revenue to the City’s General Fund in any meaningful way — absent voter-approved increases in the rate of the Municipal Services Special Tax, also known as the Parcel Tax, or in the Transfer Tax.

For these reasons, we very purposely:

  •  focus on the delivery of basic services and core programs;
  •  budget carefully and conservatively; and
  •  work diligently to safeguard our financial position by mitigating, to the extent possible, the impact of rising expenses which the City has little control over – particularly CalPERS related benefit costs which constitute an unfunded liability of just over $25 million.

On this latter point, the Council has proactively established a program of pension cost-sharing with employees and has curtailed retiree medical benefits for new hires.  These two initiatives, taken together, slowed the growth rate of our Underfunded Liabilities and will save the City millions of dollars in benefit-related expenses over the years to come.

Another significant action to buffer the effects of rising pension costs was the establishment of a Pension Rate Stabilization Fund, also known as a Section 115 Irrevocable Trust Fund, with the Public Agency Retirement Services – or PARS.

To date, the City Council has approved a total transfer of $2.75 million to PARS from the General Fund. One key benefit of this initiative is that funds deposited with PARS may achieve higher earnings due to less restrictive investment policies than apply to City funds invested in Local Agency Investment Fund.

As a result of the CalPERS decision to reduce the planned rate of return (Discount Rate), the City’s annual pension contributions are projected to increase from the current $2.2 million (7.5% of City revenue) to $5.5 million (13.3 % of City revenue) by 2029. This equates to a cost increase of approximately 132%, while City revenue over this same 10 year period is estimated to increase by only 35%.

As soon as 2023, and potentially continuing through 2031, the increase in mandatory pension contributions is projected to result in General Fund expenses exceeding revenue. When we face these net-negative revenue years, the City will be in a position to stabilize the General Fund by drawing down on its PARS account to pay pension costs.

Overall, prior City Councils and the current Council, working together with staff, have applied wisdom in managing the City’s limited financial resources. Piedmont now has a modest Reserve of just under $5 million, which represents 17% of our operating budget. Absent a catastrophic event, that amount should be of significant help in responding to an emergency or addressing unforeseen circumstances.

While there are no established policies to guide what constitutes “reasonable”, the reserve for the City of Piedmont is restricted by the City Charter to no more than 25% of the Operating Budget.

To put our City’s reserve in perspective, at the end of last fiscal year Emeryville, with a population similar to Piedmont’s, maintained a reserve of $30.3 million, which equates to approximately 76% of their General Fund; Albany’s was $8.8 million, which is 45% of their General Fund; Berkeley had a reserve of $84 million or 55% of their General Fund; and Oakland’s was approximately $150 million or 24% of their General Fund.

In addition to maintaining a modest reserve, the City has been making consistent, long-needed transfers to the Facilities Maintenance and Equipment Replacement Funds, and has also made much needed investments in our IT Systems, with a goal of bringing our use of technology into the modern era.

At the start of this Fiscal Year the Equipment Replacement Fund is projected to have a balance of $2.75 million – which, assuming we continue to make the planned annual transfers from the General Fund, should be sufficient to address the schedule for equipment replacement into the future.

The Facilities Maintenance Fund is projected to have a balance at the start of the year of only $4.8 million. This amount is far short of what is required to address accessibility, life-safety, life- cycle, and efficiency issues of our city’s facilities and property.

Piedmont’s facilities, like so many of the homes in Piedmont, are old and expensive to maintain. While aesthetically pleasing, most of our facilities are in need of significant repair and renovation.

On the whole, our community facilities and infrastructure have been kept largely functional, but it is time to devote the attention and investment necessary to meet community needs, let alone current safety or accessibility standards.

  •  Miles of sidewalks and pathways are in poor condition, and our City Engineer has estimated that we could spend on the order of $11 million on sidewalk and trail repair alone.
  •  To keep the Pavement Condition Index of our streets from deteriorating will require an estimated annual paving expenditure of approximately $1.5 million – up from the current $1 million – and this is assuming a competitive bid environment. As you know, the Engineer’s estimate for the repaving of Magnolia Avenue was $1.3 million. The sole bid submitted was for $1.7 million. So, the estimated $1.5 million required to maintain the condition of our streets could actually have increased to $2 million or more.
  •  The Veterans Hall and Recreation Building are virtually in the same condition and configuration as when they were originally built 50 to 100 years ago. Bringing them to where they should be would require an estimated investment of $6 to 7 million.
  •  The Community Pool cannot remain open much longer without substantial investment. While short-term fixes may postpone the eventual closing, safety issues are significant and the pool is losing an estimated 1 million gallons of water per year via unidentified leaks. Based on the recently completed Aquatics Master Plan, the cost of a modern and safe facility that meets community needs is estimated at between $12 million and $15 million.

Our beloved City Hall has significant needs rarely seen by the public. Low, open ceilings with exposed wires, water intrusion during storms, fire safety and accessibility issues are just a few of the problems.

At times, I hear comments asserting that the City does not have the space needed to support our programs. The fact is we have the “space”. We just need to make the investment needed to address the efficiency, functionality and accessibility issues that limit program opportunities as well as use by staff, the very young, and seniors.

The bottom line fact is that many of our facilities and amenities are inefficient, have significant condition issues limiting usage, and are not where they should be relative to life, safety, and accessibility standards – let alone to where they should be for a community like Piedmont.

Like the School District’s initiatives to invest in modernizing the Elementary Schools and High School to meet 21st Century needs, it is time to apply a similar focus to improving our City facilities and infrastructure.

In recent years, under the leadership of the City Council and with the support of city staff, there has been the political and organizational will to take a fresh and realistic look at our facilities and systems and to make the initial investment needed to develop a clear understanding of the issues and the opportunities for improvement.

While we have been doing the work necessary to develop that understanding—- the reality is that the City’s financial position, in the best of times, will only support an incremental approach to completing the work that needs to be done.

Unfortunately, for many facilities, an incremental approach will not get us to where we need to be.

To summarize:

Maintaining the current condition of our street paving, addressing unsafe sidewalks and pathways, and implementing priority pedestrian and bicycle safety projects will cost an estimated $23 million.

Factoring in the Recreation Building and the basement of City Hall adds up to $7 million. To address the pool and Veterans Hall, add another $17 million. Linda Beach Park improvements are estimated to cost $7 million. Improving Coaches Field could cost up to $4 million. All together these projects total $58 million.

Looking to the future, barring a natural disaster, bringing our facilities and civic infrastructure into the 21st century will be the City’s biggest challenge and greatest opportunity for the betterment of the Piedmont community.

With attention and investment our facilities can continue to serve the community for another 100 years. Doing what has to be done will take time, focus, persistence, vision and leadership. To our good fortune, we have all the right people in place, with the right mix of vision and talent, to meet these challenges.

Paul Benoit, Piedmont City Administrator

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
May 10 2019

CIP Recommendations: Yes to improvements for Piedmont Middle School courts for pickleball usage, license plate readers at all Piedmont entrances, drinking fountain in Piedmont Main Park for dogs and people – No to Blair Park and Witter Field improvements. 

The CIP Review Committee recommendations will be discussed as part of the Piedmont Proposed FY 19-20 Budget Presentation and Workshop Saturday, May 11,  9 am Piedmont Police Department Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

CIP Review Committee recommendations with respect to the 9 new 2019-20 resident proposals can be summarized as follows:

The following 3 proposals can move forward with City Council support:

-Renovation of PMS Hard-courts
-Installation of ALPRs at Piedmont Entrances
-Installation of a drinking fountain (for humans and dogs) in Piedmont Park

The following 3 proposals are recommended as meritorious but requiring additional study from public safety and/or public works:

-Two related Wildwood Gardens proposals
-Development of a landscape triangle at Blair and Calvert Court

The following 3 proposals are determined to need direction from City Council:

 – Blair Park proposals for donated fencing and parking improvements

 – Two related Witter Field proposals

READ the agenda below for the Council Budget Work Session when the Council will consider all CIP proposals and department budgets:

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/agendas/2019-05-11_special.pdf

READ the full CIP Review Report for 2019 below:

CIPreviewreport 2019

Minutes, broadcasts, and recordings were not made of any of the CIP Review meetings.  Staff reports were not publicized. 

Recordings and broadcast will not be made of the Saturday, May 11, 2019 Council Budget Workshop held at 403 Highland Avenue in the Emergency Operations Center of the Piedmont Police Department.  The public is welcome to attend and participate.

 

READ the full staff 2019-20 Budget recommendations including fees, permits, salaries, benefits, use of City property, tax rates, personnel, etc. – http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/finance/budget/19-20/19-20_budget.shtml

Apr 19 2019

City of Piedmont

CIP Review Committee Agenda Tuesday, April 23, 2019 7:00 p.m.

City Hall Conference Room, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA

  1. Review of Preliminary CIP Wish Lists, Resident Proposals, and Criteria for Evaluating Proposed Projects
  2. Presentation of Resident Proposals
  3. Consideration of Project List for CIP Review Committee Site Tour on Saturday, May 4, 2019

The meeting will not be recorded or broadcast.  The public is welcome to attend and participate.