June 6, 2006

City Budget and Islander Lodge Motel at City Council Meeting

The main items on the June 5, 2006, City Council meeting agenda were an update on the conversion of the Islander Lodge Motel to affordable housing and the presentation of the 2006-2007 city budget by City Manager John Jermanis.

All members of the City Council were present: Orval Badger, Vice Mayor Surlene Grant, Glenda Nardine, Joyce Starosciak, Bill Stephens, Tony Santos, and Mayor Sheila Young.

The audience for the meeting was nearly doubled by the 12-14 friends and family of Senior Library Assistant Mary Lutvinchuk, who was honored as Employee of the Month.

Public comments consisted of Mike Katz suggesting that the City Council record its meetings digitally so that it can be made available on the city web site and Harold Perez complaining about the lack of adequate response to his complaints about the numerous pit bulls at his neighbor's residence.

After Council Member Nardine asked for clarifications of the consent calendar items, they were approved unanimously. One item included approving $2,000 from the Mayor's Community Fund for Mayor Young to travel to Ponta Delgada, San Leandro's sister city in the Azores.

The Islander Lodge Motel (2398 E. 14th Street) project has changed from the original plan in that the City of San Leandro will maintain ownership of the property and improvements while Mercy Housing will manage the property for the next 55 years. The Islander Lodge Motel will be converted to 62 studio apartments, two one-bedroom apartments and one two-bedroom apartment for the manager. Rents are expected to range from $406 to $626 per month depending on the apartment and the renter's income. The current plan includes gated parking and a computer. The Board of Zoning Adjustments provided the project with an exemption for parking, as the plan calls for just 62 parking spaces. The City Council voted unanimously to approve a loan of up to $727,000 from the Redevelopment Agency to Mercy Housing to cover the costs of predevelopment activities such as architecture, engineering, geotechnical, and legal services. The loan will have a 0% interest rate and will be paid back in late 2006 or early 2007.

City Manager Jermanis provided a very brief summary of the previous year's budget, noting that the City of San Leandro incurred a $1.3 million deficit instead of the budgeted $3 million deficit because of 1.9% higher property tax revenues, 1.2 % higher sales tax revenues, and higher transfer tax revenues, due almost entirely to the $94.5 million sale of the 63-acre Albertson's distribution center property at 1701 Marina Boulevard to Kaiser. The city also managed to save 1.4% in expenditures (almost $1 million).

For 2006-2007, total revenues to the general fund are estimated at $73.6 million and total expenditures from the general fund are estimated at $74.2 million. Reserve funds will be used to make up the deficit of $570,000. The workforce is being rearranged, but the net result is an increase of four full-time equivalents, with a decrease in full-time employees and an increase in part-time employees.

The current budget depends on the passage of Measure I, the business license fee increase, and if it not passed, the $2 million in expected revenue will have to be found elsewhere. Other new revenue in the budget includes $500,000 from the Oro Loma franchise fee and $500,000 from the red light camera program, although that is offset by $500,000 in costs for the program. The State of California will no longer be taking property tax money under Proposition 1A, so that frees up $1.2 million, while growth in property taxes, sales taxes, the 911 fee, utility user tax, and franchise fees all help the growth in revenues. The budget projects a decline in revenues from the real property tax, based on declining home sales.

Public safety (police and fire) constitute $41.1 million (55%) of the expenditures, followed by general government at $6.5 million (9%), and community development at $6.1 million (8%). Of the $2.4 million increase in expenditures over last year, $1.9 million is due to new contracts and step and benefit rollups.

The city still expects to hand out $324,500 in community assistance to groups like the Boys and Girls Club, Building Futures for Women and Children, Davis Street, Project Literacy, Stepping Stones, and SAVE. The city will also hand out $25,000 in community benefit funds to the Arts Council of San Leandro, California Conservatory Theater, Pacific Chamber Symphony, San Leandro Art Association, San Leandro College Bound, San Leandro High School Musical Theater, San Leandro Players, and Washington Manor Middle School Worldancers.

Items that don't have funding include the senior center, a competition pool at Washington Manor, park renovations, the Cherry Festival, Sunday hours at the library, capital improvement projects, police positions, and equipment and maintenance costs.

The budget will be presented to the public at the City Council meeting at 7pm on June 19, 2006. If you want to voice your opinion about how the city should spend its money, contact your City Council Member and make sure to attend the next City Council meeting.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at June 6, 2006 12:00 AM | TrackBack
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