Sometimes being fiscally responsible can bring unkind comments from colleagues, constituents and friends however I asked the residents of Foster City to elect me to make decisions on their behalf. They did and I have!!! I have found over the last seven years that you cannot make a decision that does not offend someone. For everyone that agrees there are bound to be another or more that does not.
To reiterate my last column where I asked a woman to step forward to take this challenge I probably should have mentioned the criticism that comes with the job. I have been able to listen to what folks say and their (mostly) well intentioned comments. I have taken those comments into consideration as I vote yes or no on behalf of Foster City…….I try to vote the way I believe the majority of the residents would want me to vote. Also, I have had two viable emails from women that may be interested in running next year who I will meet with soon.
The buzz word these days is fiscally conservative but I would rather be called fiscally responsible.
When I brought the idea of an honor wall to honor those who lived or worked in Foster City that have served our country, it wasn’t just a “nice thing to do”. It specifically was meant to bring attention to those that have served and still serve who have fallen between the cracks. The more I read and study what has happened to returning veterans from Vietnam and our current outrageous conflicts, I shudder. Their stories need to be brought back into our everyday conversation.
Is it prudent to set aside $50,000 to build such a wall? In my mind and for two others on this council the answer was YES. I might add that the Chamber of Commerce, headed by Joanne Bohigan, has stepped up to join our efforts to fundraise for this endeavor. I am confident we will not need the entire $50,000. It will be a community-led endeavor and I’m very proud we decided to go forward. It is long past due. We cannot deny that the comforts and freedom that we take for granted were because of the commitment from our brave men and women.
As many of you know, the City has a capital investment fund in the form of park-in-lieu funds. Park-in-lieu funds are funded through park-in-lieu fees charged to developers; e.g., Pilgrim-Triton, that develop housing in Foster City. These funds are set aside only to be used for parks amenities that serve the community. That fund has a balance of about $500,000 as we enter the next fiscal year. The City has designated $500,000 in park-in-lieu funds in Fiscal Year 2012/2013 for projects that include:
• Edgewater Park synthetic surface project for a softball and soccer field.
• Approximately $50,000 for a site development study at both Werder Pier and Destination Park (end of Halibut at Beach Park Blvd.).
In regards to the Werder Pier and Destination Park projects, it should be noted that these funds will be utilized to only study the potential uses of both sites. This will be a public process in which we will seek input as to concepts and ideas for park development at both sites, as well as revenue generating possibilities for the Werder Pier site.
As an elected City Council member, I believe this is a prudent and appropriate use of park-in-lieu funds and would note that the Edgewater Park and the $50,000 allocated for park studies were unanimously and enthusiastically supported by our Foster City Parks and Recreation Committee, an advisory committee to the City Council.
In 2008 when I was Mayor was when the economy started its downfall……pretty sure it wasn’t my fault so don’t email me!!! But seriously this is when we started to examine how we did business in Foster City and how we might conserve our finances. I am proud to say that a firefighter in San Mateo and I started the conversation to consolidate departments. It was because I attended county events and meetings in other cities that I met him and the wheels started to churn as we brought officials into our conversation. That is why it is so important to not just concentrate on Foster City issues since all other cities are faced with challenges and we MUST help our fellow cities and our fellow human beings.
That is another reason I voted to fund almost all non-profit agencies who asked for our help……I had prior knowledge of their efforts to provide food and shelter for our county which again we must do unless we want the results which would spill into our streets if we do not do our share. The numbers of Foster City residents they directly helped has increased and even though we may look at our City as pretty prosperous, only these agencies know that behind many front doors there are people in need. I believe our residents want to be part of the solution.
I am open to consolidating any other departments with cities or county programs if it doesn’t mean a cut in services that we provide. And again that is the biggest point……Foster City doesn’t SELL anything, we PROVIDE services and therefore to increase revenue is a difficult challenge.
I believe our staff has led us to our current status through many hours of “tweaking” numbers, “tweaking” staff and otherwise, yes eliminating the low hanging fruit but giving us further ways to balance our budget. When we decided to balance the budget by 2013-14 I knew it would be my last chance to make a difference since it would be my last budget cycle as a council member. This is still my intention.
I have been called an altruist which probably goes with my liberal side however I truly believe that trusting and critical thinking can accomplish more than the negative view that the sky is falling. We have put money in reserves for a rainy day and right now it is drizzling……it is not a downpour. Through attrition and “creative” financing conceived by people with masters’ degrees in public finance and public administration so I will leave THOSE details to them. We pay them to give us solutions and it our job to use common sense when deciding if those decisions are in our best interest. They have led us here and only the economy (i.e. property tax, our biggest revenue) has not cooperated which again I trust that piece will fall back into place in the next few years as will our revenue through our continued development of three major projects.
Your comments are welcome…..I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org.