Council okays two-year budget

Council okays two-year budget

Michele Ellson
Alameda City Council

City leaders on Tuesday unanimously okayed a $188 million budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 and a $174.4 million budget for 2016-17.

“We’ve shown restraint. And we’ve also started to restore some of the cuts we made during the Great Recession,” said City Councilman Jim Oddie, who said the budget begins to address deferred maintenance and long-term retiree costs.

Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer, who voiced some concerns about the overtime budget for public safety, said she thinks the budgets serve the whole city.

“I think this is a step toward correcting (funding for) departments that have truly been left behind,” Spencer said.

Vice Mayor Frank Matarrese asked his dais mates to consider new rules requiring the council to spend some of the city’s reserve to spend on projects like salt water pumps and other items council members expressed interest in funding during the budget process, a request that moved forward on a 3-2 vote. City staff will come back to the council with more information in September.

“Fixing pools, re-turfing fields that are wretched – there’s all sorts of things we need to look at,” Matarrese said.

In a letter to the council, Interim City Manager Elizabeth D. Warmerdam said this year’s budget is the first in three years that didn’t include departmental cuts. An anticipated $1.23 million budget deficit the following year will be covered by anticipating savings from this year’s budget and money from the city’s reserves.

The city’s general fund – its primary source of unrestricted cash – is budgeted at $81.9 million, $57.7 million of which will fund police and fire services and the cost of public safety workers’ retiree medical benefits.

Budgets for several other city departments are covered by fees for service or other funds. The $7.3 million budget for the city’s community development department, which includes planning, code enforcement and economic development, is almost entirely funded by fees for service and lease revenues for the Fleet Industrial Supply Center property and Tidelands property the city manages. More than half of the city’s Recreation and Parks Department’s $7.42 million budget is also expected to be funded by program and rental fees.

The budget includes eight new positions in information technology, base reuse and other departments and $100,000 to open the main library two hours earlier each Wednesday and an additional $60,000 for materials.

The city is also set to spend $55 million for construction and maintenance projects over the next two years, an amount that includes more than $22 million for upgrades to the Island’s sewer and storm water facilities, $16.9 million for street and sidewalk maintenance, $4.3 million for sections of a Cross Alameda Trail along Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway and through the future Jean Sweeney Open Space Park and another $2 million toward construction of the park. The capital budget also includes $3.7 million to start construction at Estuary Park.

The city’s general fund revenues are expected to reach $81.4 million next year, up from $68 million in 2009-10 and $1.7 million more than revenues are projected to be at the close of this fiscal year. The number is up on rising property and sales taxes and also, hotel and transfer taxes, which are projected to be more than double this year what they were in 2009.

The city’s budget forecasts for the next five years show expenses rising by more than $10 million over the next five years, largely on growing pension costs. Absent council action, the growing costs could reduce the city’s $30.8 million reserve to $17 million in five years, the projections show, though the city’s budget forecasts have proven to be conservative.

The city moved to a two-year budget cycle in 2013 as a time saving measure.

Comments

Submitted by ac (not verified) on Wed, Jun 3, 2015

About the publuc safety? What about the crossing guards? Aren't they ALSO part of the police dept.? It's been heard and even shows that they haven't had a raise in pay since '08. They only work 4 hours a day only on AUSD school days on session. Oakland crossing guards make almost double the hourly wage. The dedicated individuals who are the crossing guards should have some better compensation for helping to protect our kids and all mobility challenged citizens. Especially since cost of living and skyrocketing rents are a such a struggle as is. This city is a highly desireable location to live with population density obviously to increase with new development in the next few years. People (who can afford) to move here will bring thier kids and have more kids. Then maybe the need to add more schools and new crossing guards to put there. We need to keep our crossing guards in that case, or they might go looking for better prospects elsewhere. Rising population density means more traffic it will bring along with rising risks for accidents. Those crossing guards are important! They should NOT be left out!