Tough Decisions and Compromises
I do admit I advocate for those passions I have in my life.....some say relentlessly!!!
I, therefore, believe I was elected for my second term in part because of my passion and compassion. I know we need to make cuts in our budget and I am prepared to do exactly that, however the issue for those in need is now. Quite possibly by next year their problems will have been resolved somewhat. To provide for the health, safety and welfare of this community is the goal I have and is the reason why I voted to support non-profits. Foster City doesn't offer the services these agencies provide, therefore their support contributes to the welfare of this community. We do not have folks sleeping under our bridges or in our parks because these non-profits provide temporary assistance. Next year will be looked at as objectively as this one.
The need for cuts begins this year and at any point in the next twelve months I am waiting for directions from staff on how they believe cuts can be made that will have a significant impact on our budget. I was not in favor of cutting $200 here and there for advisory committee budgets but I followed through on those just to make a point that it will not be "business as usual".
As my colleague, Art Kiesel, said at the June 7th budget public hearing 80% of our budget is in personnel costs. We run a tight ship and the reason we are so efficient is in no small part due to the competence of our employees. We treat them well and they respond with efficiency and loyalty. I wouldn't consider it a difficult decision to choose an employee over a fleet of cars!!!
One of the hot topics was the shuttle service in Foster City. One of the speakers commented that his primary caregivers of his children are their grandparents who do not drive. He pleaded that we keep our buses and would be happy to pay for the service. Another resident emailed us that she has a health issue that prohibits her from driving so she relies totally on the bus. Yet another resident rides the bus to help the environment. Each of these folks needs to be part of the solution if we are to continue this valuable service to our residents. I have kept their information and have told them I will be contacting them. Unfortunately, those of the 300 that are steady riders are the most vulnerable.
We must prove to the skeptics that in the next 12 months we will find viable funding from either sponsors, implementation of fares, scheduling or whatever it takes to be successful. We are paying an intern $25,000 this year to work on transportation issues......this needs to be a priority for her. Our Environmental Sustainability Task Force (along with members from the former Transportation Committee) has stepped up to support the shuttle service and help solve the problem.
My emails have been from residents with a myriad of ways to fix our budget; however, we all have ideas but to follow through with the implementation of those ideas is where we lose people.
It was said many times how difficult it is to make cuts, not fund social services, cut back budgets which impact services and it really is very difficult. In the next year it will become more painful when ideas from staff come forward and we have a clear look at the impact of some decline in property taxes, lower Transient Occupancy Tax (hotels) and projected revenue.
Of course we wouldn't be in such dire straits if our much anticipated Mirabella project had received enough funding to be profitable for them. Remember that was originally going to bring over $2 million per year to our revenue stream for 99 years. That income would have balanced our budget for years to come; however, there will another development on that site that will be the "right" project at the right time for us and we will be right back on track.
One thing I know for sure is that the five council members you have elected may not always agree but at the end of the day (or meeting) we still respect each other. We are all strong people with passions, ideas, personalities that differ but in the end, our main purpose is to serve this community of Foster City. I think I can speak for all of us that your health, safety and welfare are always on our mind when we make decisions regarding the City of Foster City.
P.S. Welcome to Dan Belville, our new Fire Chief.....may our relationship with you and with the City of San Mateo be a lengthy union.
I would appreciate your comments on this and other issues by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 16, 2010
Tough Decisions and Compromises