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. 

Apr 16 2019

Extensive New Recreation Projects May Call for a New Piedmont Tax Measure

Projects being considered by the City are the Aquatic Center with expanded new pool and facilities, Coaches Field reconfiguration and night lighting, Linda Beach Park improvements, and updating of the Recreation Building and Veterans Hall.  

Volunteers with support primarily from sports and recreation enthusiasts may be knocking on your door to learn about your funding ideas for the numerous recreation projects through a voter approved bond measure.  Door knocking, a common election tool used to estimate specific approval or rejection of potential ballot bond measures, is underway in Piedmont. 

Some Piedmont leaders have indicated gaining more knowledge about Piedmont voter preferences for recreation facilities is needed to learn where support or opposition lies. The volunteer knocking on your door may be a neighbor. 

Larry Tramutola, a Piedmont resident and widely known political consultant on taxing issues involving cities, special districts, school districts, etc., volunteered to advise on methods for approaching and convincing voters to support a new recreation bond measure.

Consultants, planners, recreation enthusiasts, commissioners, and the City Council have for years been fashioning various plans for improved or enhanced recreation facilities throughout Piedmont. The City has expended a significant amount of money and time towards the plans.

To date, no bond proposals have reached the City Council. 

Consideration of voter acceptance of a bond measure was studied by the Council over a year ago resulting in insufficient voter support by polled voters for bond funding of the recreation projects. For approval, the bond measure would require approval by 2/3rds of those voting on the measure.

New Internal Revenue Service laws may impact Piedmonters willingness to further tax themselves, as there is a recent limitation of $10,000 on deductibility of state and local taxes.

Mar 27 2019
  • Middle School courts repaved for Pickleball purposes
  • Wildwood Gardens streets changed to one way
  • Stairway to Oak Avenue from Wildwood Gardens
  • Fencing and improvements to Blair Park along Moraga Avenue 
  • Improvements to Witter Field drainage and various enhancements
  • Water fountain in Piedmont Park near Witter Field for dogs and people

The purpose of the CIP Review Committee and citizen proposed projects can be read by clicking below:

> CIP 2019

Revised Proposal worksheet can be read by clicking below.

> 2019 Proposal sheet revised

Various City Wide projects are: Aquatic Center, Linda Beach Park, Recreation Center and Veterans Hall improvements, Coaches Field improvements including lights, and Public Security Cameras.

The Committee meetings are open to the public and any resident that wants to attend is welcome. The next meeting is scheduled for April 9th at 7 pm in the City Council conference room to the left as you enter Piedmont City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.  Recordings of the meeting are not made and there are no broadcasts or minutes of the meetings. 

For more information, contact Nancy Kent at NKent@piedmont.ca.gov

Mar 16 2019

CIP Review Committee Agenda Tuesday, March 19, 2019 7:00 p.m.   City Hall Conference Room, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA

What is being considered for City expenditures?

The CIP meeting is open for public participation. Minutes and recordings are not made of the meetings, and there are no broadcasts of the meetings.  Meeting materials, staff reports, citizen requests have not been publicly distributed. Attendees at the meeting, and thereafter, all individuals have a right to view and obtain copies of all information distributed to the Committee. Meeting attendees may make recordings of the meetings, as long as the meeting is not disrupted by the recording device.

The March 19 meeting agenda includes:

  1. Update on Public Safety Projects from Police Chief Jeremy Bowers
  2. Review of Revised Work Schedule and Tasks for the CIP Review Committee for Fiscal Year 2019-20
  3. Review of Proposed Projects

Materials related to an item on this agenda submitted to the CIP Review Committee are available for public inspection in the Public Works Department during normal business hours. 

As of this writing (3/17/19) PCA has not received agenda information materials for the 3/19/19  meeting. When information is submitted to PCA, it will be published here. 

New CIP member, Recreation Commissioner Conna McCarthy, was chosen to serve on the CIP Review Committee, as the representative from the Recreation Commission.

Mar 8 2019

Deadline for proposals: Tuesday, March, 19, 2019

The Capital Improvement Projects Review Committee (CIP) is soliciting proposals for new city projects which would enhance our community. Ideas submitted by individuals, community organizations and City Staff are all considered. If you have a great idea, the committee would like to hear from you.

Download the > Proposal Form. Proposals are due no later than Tuesday, March 19th at 5:00 p.m.  Completed forms should be returned to the Department of Public Works, 120 Vista Avenue.

All applicants/residents that have submitted proposals will be personally invited to attend the CIP meeting scheduled on April 9, 2019.  At this meeting, applicants will be asked to briefly describe their projects to the CIP Review Committee. The CIP Review Committee will then determine which projects will require a site visit.

The April 9 meeting is a public meeting.  All interested individuals are welcome to attend and participate in the meeting proceedings.

The CIP Site Visit Tour will be scheduled for a Saturday in early May. The tour will commence at City Hall at 9:00 am and then will proceed to CIP tour stops located throughout the City. At each of the tour stops the CIP Review Committee will see the locations for proposed projects first hand.

At noon, a working lunch will be provided at City Hall for Committee members, city staff, and interested citizens. At this working lunch the CIP Review Committee will attempt to compose their list of 2019-2020 CIP projects that they recommend as a part of this year’s budget process. The CIP chair in conjunction with CIP Review Committee members will be asked to prepare a list of recommended projects and narrative that will be forwarded to the City Council for consideration in the budget process.

If you have questions regarding the CIP process, please contact Nancy Kent Parks & Project Manager, at (510) 420-3064.

CIP Committee Roster as of 3/7/19

Michael Henn

Susan Herrick

Bobbe Stehr

Jeffrey St. Claire

PBF Representative – Nancy McHugh

Park Commission Representative – Jim Horner

Recreation Commission Representative – TBD

May 13 2018

Piedmont Recreation Commission meeting Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 7:30 p.m., Piedmont City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue. 

The meeting will be broadcast live on Channel 27 and on the City website under videos for the Recreation Commission. Members of the public can attend and participate in the meeting. 

Agenda includes:

  1. Update on Proposed Schoolmates Staffing Model for 2018-19
  2. Update on Linda Beach Master Plan
  3. Consideration of the Re-Establishment of a Subcommittee on Tennis Court Use, Including Pickleball
  4. Consideration of the Establishment of a Subcommittee on Serving the Needs of the Piedmont Skateboarding Community
  5. Update on Capital Improvement Projects Review Committee (CIP)

READ the full agenda and prior meeting minutes > May Recreation Commission Meeting Packet

Mar 12 2018

The City is flush with money, so how can it be spent?  HURRY! Your good ideas are sought by March 14th deadline for a March 15 meeting.

2018 CIP Proposal Form

The Capital Improvement Projects Review Committee (CIP) will be meeting Thursday, March 15, 2018, at 7 pm and Tuesday, March 20 at 7 pm in the Police Department Emergency Operations Center to consider and recommend CIP projects.  CIP members are:  Michael Henn, Susan Herrick, Bobbe Stehr, Jeffrey St. Claire.  The Piedmont Beautification Foundation (PBF) Representative and Piedmont Park Commission Representatives are Nancy McHugh and Jim Horner.  The Recreation Commission Representative and Council Liaison are to be announced.  The staff liaisons are Chester Nakahara and Nancy Kent.  Read the meeting agenda here.   There will be no audio or written record kept of meeting discussion or presentations. Additionally, no broadcast via the internet or cable TV will be available.

The meetings are open to the public. 

Read the March 15 agenda > here

The announcement by the City is below: 

The CIP is soliciting proposals for new projects which would enhance our community. Ideas submitted by individuals, community organizations and City staff are all considered. If you have a great idea, the committee would like to hear from you.

Proposals are due no later than March 14th at 5:00 PM. Click to download the

2018 CIP Proposal Form.

All applicants/residents that have submitted proposals will be personally invited to attend the CIP Meeting to be scheduled in March/April.  At this meeting, applicants will be asked to briefly describe their projects to the CIP Committee. The CIP Committee will then determine which projects will require a site visit.

The CIP Site Visit Tour will be scheduled for a Saturday in early May. The tour will commence at City Hall at 9:00 am and then will proceed to CIP tour stops located throughout the City. At each of the tour stops the CIP Committee will see the locations for proposed projects first hand.

At noon a working lunch will be provided at City Hall for Committee members, city staff, and interested citizens. At this working lunch the CIP Review Committee will attempt to compose their list of 2018-2019.  CIP projects that they recommend as a part of this year’s budget process. The CIP chair in conjunction with CIP Review Committee members will be asked to prepare a list of recommended projects and narrative that will be forwarded to the City Council for consideration in the budget process.

Completed forms should be returned to the Department of Public Works, 120 Vista Avenue. If you have questions regarding the CIP process, please contact via email > Nancy Kent Parks & Project Manager, or by phone at (510) 420-3064.

Mar 6 2018

Many public City meetings are broadcast live via the City website at > http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/video/ or on Cable Channel 27.  These meetings can be viewed after the meetings from video recordings found on the City website.  Many other meetings are not broadcast requiring those interested in the subject matter to be physically present to observe the meetings.

Below are a list of the City’s selection of which meetings in March 2018 will or will not be recorded and broadcast.

BROADCAST:

  • City Council March 5 meeting video can be found > HERE.
  • Wednesday March 7  Park Commission 5:30 pm Chambers
  • Monday March 12 Planning Commission 5:00 pm Chambers
  • Monday March 19 City Council 7:30 pm Chambers
  • Wednesday March 21 Recreation Commission 7:30 pm Chambers

MEETINGS NOT BROADCAST:

  • Tuesday  March 6  CIP Review Committee 7:00 pm Conference Room – (CIP Committee deliberates on which capital projects to recommend for funding by the City Council. This is an expense related committee.)
  • Thursday March 15 City Council Special Meeting 5:30 pm Conference Room Interviews of applicants for Commission and Committee Appointments. (Open to everyone but seldom observed by Piedmonters.)
  • Tuesday March 20 City / School Liaison 4:00 pm Conference Room (Representatives from the City Council and School Board discuss subjects of mutual interest as safety, facilities, etc. and return to their respective bodies to share information. Meeting is open to the public.)
  • Tuesday March 20 CIP Review Committee 7:00 pm Conference Room ( Deliberations continue on funding choices. This is an expense related committee. )
  • Thursday March 29 Public Safety Committee 5:30 pm Chambers.

All public meetings are open to the public to observe and participate. Exception: Closed Sessions.

Agendas for meetings will be posted in City Hall and the Piedmont Police Department at least 72 hours prior to each meeting.  Agendas for some Council, Commission & appointed Committee meetings are also posted online on the City website http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/ Copies of all agendas may be requested from the office of the City Clerk, John O. Tulloch, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont or by calling 510-420-3040.

Notice and agendas of special meetings will be provided by the City at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.