The Foster City Spirit
I will admit that in the six years I’ve been on this council this has been the toughest year to discuss how to balance our budget. Of course we didn’t have to face a structural deficit before; however, just the word budget had different meanings for different people in our City who haven’t heard the word compromise much. We got through the process and will deal with different issues and different solutions in January when the newly elected council members are seated.
I have always thought we were not looking realistically at our revenues since admittedly they were unstable, however I believe this is the first year that more than a hand full of folks paid attention to revenue streams and pensions or how to accomplish this balancing act in the next two years. The 2013 budget will be the last I’m involved with so you have my promise it will be balanced by then.
I am pleased we didn’t have to make some of the draconian cuts some talked about; however, time and events will dictate if we need to move them forward next year. Unfortunately some demands at the State level will dictate changes as well. Especially with Capital Improvement and Affordable Housing projects that may be impacted if we lose our Redevelopment Funds.
Not many parents with small children pay much attention to the process because we have made Foster City a pleasant and safe place to live. Many think we need younger folks on the City Council to represent their perspectives, which is an idea I welcome. What I have learned in the last six years is that you generally don’t hear from folks until their life is impacted negatively. I truly wish they knew how many mundane hours we’ve spent on significant issues that affect the entire city. With age comes wisdom. Hopefully, more will get involved so they have a voice on these decisions.
The “feel good” part of our City is the spirit I have seen on display at our Summer Concert Series. Several council members, Parks and Recreation Committee members and staff have “worked” the crowd with our plastic handled donation containers. We try to explain to folks that the advertised free concert pertains to their contribution but that the City still has to pay the bands, staff, etc. When told the Concerts are in jeopardy due to budget cuts they readily dig in their pockets to help. We have collected almost $4,000 at four concerts with two to go. Last year for six concerts we raised almost $700. Hopefully we can add to the revenue side $5,000 yearly toward paying for our concerts. Seems small but it shows that our residents are starting to understand we might not be able to fund some of the events they take for granted.
The same has been true at the 4th of July event……people didn’t complain about paying for parking and new suggestions to charge for BBQ space, tent and blanket space, etc. which would come with free parking have been wonderful suggestions for next year. The point is when residents learn of our budget issues they want to help.
We have defined a lot of our budget line items as essential and non-essential as we try to balance our budget. We tend to go for the cuts in Parks & Recreation since they seem non-essential when compared with the safety and welfare of our residents. However, most of these programs ARE essential to the quality of our lives…..recreation helps our souls stay hopeful, healthy and positive especially in these lean economic times.
I’m proud of our residents and businesses for stepping it up to find ways to support the things important to them and their families. The spirit in this City has remained strong and I’m proud we can recognize our strengths through whatever the State and Federal governments dictate to us.
Next time I will discuss and ask for input on a plan I would like to see at our Recreation Center……a wall to honor those who have served in our military and finding ways to support those serving in the military from Foster City. Stay tuned and email me with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 10, 2011
The Foster City Spirit
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Foster City, CA 94404