On November 29th and 30th your City Council listened to the recommendations from our City Manager, Jim Hardy and his staff on how to balance our budget by 2013-14. We asked them to divide expenditures into “essential”, “important” and “nice to have” categories. There were creative and intense suggestions and ones that were not easy to deliberate on. However you elected the five of us because you trusted we could make decisions on your behalf albeit not always decisions you all might agree with us on. Cutting $1 million a year over each of the next three years is not an easy task.
T. Jack Foster had a vision, however as we heard from city staff ……the way our government delivered services in the 60’s through his vision unfortunately will never look the same in 2011. I sometimes feel defensive when I defend the salaries of our employees when people complain that 74% of our costs are in personnel…..what you need to look at is that we provide a service and the service is supplied by personnel. Of course this is why we have the best city in this state.
We have a hiring freeze plus our management team has given back their 1% raise next year and ½% raise the following year yielding about $120,000. We have chosen to not fill over 10 positions and I truly hope I don’t hear another person in the grocery store say…… “well we must not have needed them in the first place”. This is not true, it is a testament to our staff and management to reorganize and yes the burden is felt by employees and will impact services that we offer as well.
Our Fire and Police Chiefs have made recommendations to explore shared service models. While they may not be ideal in all instances, they will however be adequate to keep the response time and the safety of our residents as their main concern. Through attrition in these departments and others we have and will realize some savings as well.
While we reorganize some positions in the Parks and Recreation Department and transition into fewer programs to offer our residents, please understand cuts have to be made everywhere. Possibly the lawn at your park will be mowed less frequently, trash picked up a little less frequently etc., but we are dedicated to the safety of our parks and levee.
The recommendation from staff to proceed with the daytime festivities for the 4th of July was approved, at the cost of $15,000. The fireworks are in question since that adds another approximately $45,000 for the display and overtime. After listening to the passionate comments from two Foster City Lions Club members, we are allowing them until January to research a pay for parking idea. It is an ambitious undertaking but unless we get corporate donations and parking fees, we will be unable to support the fireworks.
We approved going forward a few years earlier than planned with two synthetic fields, one at Sea Cloud and one at Port Royal plus a walking path. This has proved to be an excellent choice to natural turf since we save on maintenance personnel, have the ability to play in the rain with less chasing of the geese while providing a wonderful new facility for the residents of our city. After living with our two synthetic fields this past year, staff is convinced it is a good choice. Let me explain that the approximate $3 million we will spend is coming from our Capital Improvement Funds and cannot be used for programs, salaries, etc.
The budget, $35,000, to support our door to door senior bus service will be eliminated next fiscal year and I’m hoping some of our residents will volunteer to help the seniors in need. I’m on this list to be called; if you want to join me, please email me. The bus will still be available for private rentals and trips for seniors that are self supporting.
We are not able to show revenue from the 15 acres, however, according to Rick Marks, Community Development Director, there have been at least 25 different organizations calling with interest on that property. Also, Gilead Sciences is exploring building a new lab in the New Year. Plus Pilgrim-Triton will come in later this month with their plans to begin their 300 unit apartment building. When the building permit is issued they will pay $4 million in park-in-lieu fees.
These are just a few of the recommendations and all things considered, I felt our council was in agreement with most of the recommendations for 2011-12 but have some concerns for those being considered for 2012-13. I’m hoping there will be some action on the revenue side that might soften the blow a year from now.
We will not make final decisions on anything we discussed until June 2011 when the 2011-12 budget is formally adopted, so I urge you to email us, come to budget study sessions and speak your mind at the podium or call me at (650) 349-7516. I welcome your comments. The full budget can be seen on our website at www.fostercity.org.
Compromises, dedication, commitment and patience is needed now.
Comments……email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Foster City, CA 94404