During my travels throughout the City and more often at the Summer Concerts, I have been asked many questions about the City and I thought I would share some of them with you.
Question: The theme of the question most asked is “Is the City OK?” referring to our financial stability. Their question is well founded as we are bombarded with media emphasizing the economic woes of other cities, the State, and the Federal Government. The answer I give is “Yes, we are OK – we are not in as great a shape as we would like to be.” As we started fiscal year 2010-2011 we had approximately $20 million in reserves (savings account). As a result of lower revenues, we will be using a little over $ 3 million of those ‘saving account’ funds to operate the City.
Question: “I read that other cities are laying-off police and fire. Are we going to be doing the same?” This City Council is committed to public safety and preserving and maintaining our infrastructure. However, if the economy does not improve, we will be forced to make some undesirable decisions. We are and will be looking at more creative ways of providing the same service at less cost. The recent agreement with San Mateo to share a Fire Chief is one such action we have taken.
Question: “Why are we spending $35,000 on geese control?” The City Council has addressed this cost by not automatically renewing this contract. We have asked staff to do some additional research into humane alternatives (and hopefully less costly) to deal with the geese issues. The geese problem is an issue shared by other cities on the Bay and we are trying to address the situation more regionally. It makes little sense for Foster City to chase the geese out-of-town only to have them land in say nearby Redwood Shores. Redwood Shores then addresses the problem and chase the geese out-of-town only to fly back to Foster City – a never ending circle and the problem continues to grow as more goslings are hatched each year.
Question: “We love the Summer Concerts – can we have more than six?”, “Why are we spending so much on the Summer Concerts?”, and “Why did we change the starting time of the Summer Concerts from 7:30 to 6:30?” The Foster City Park and Recreation Department with input from the Park and Recreation Citizens Advisory Committee determined that the current venue is the best mix in terms of number of concerts, starting time, and associated costs. All residents are welcome to attend any of the Citizen Advisory Committee meetings and voice your opinion. After attending all six concerts this year and most of them from previous years, they appear to be well attended which speaks well to the success of the Summer Concert Series.
Question: “What is happening with the 15-acres?” The vacant City-owned property adjacent to City Hall and affectionately known as the 15-acres (or Mirabella) finds itself in a state of hibernation mostly as a result of the current economic climate. Pacific Retirement Services (PRS) had an exclusive right to negotiate with the City for the development of the 15-acres which expired on April 1, 2010. Here is a quote from an April 1, 2010 Press Release “PRS has indicated its interest in working with the City again when the economic recovery is complete and the time is right for this project. Foster City officials have not decided on the City’s next steps with respect to the 15-acre site, but will discuss this issue at a future Council meeting”. When PRS finds itself in a more favorable economic climate or any other entity with a viable plan comes forward, they may present their plans to the City for consideration. Foster City views the 15-acre property as a valuable asset and fully expects to gain economic benefit from it for Foster City and its residents.
You can read answers to other frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) as well as find out about the status of other issues that affect the City on the Foster City web site (www.fostercity.org). On the Foster City Home Page and at the time of the writing of this article, you will find references and articles on the Annual Budget, current status on the FEMA Flood Maps, and City of Foster City Green Policies and Practices.
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