The city of Dublin unveiled its 2011-12 budget Tuesday with "tempered optimism," due to modest increases in revenue and the uncertainty of state funding sources.
City Manager Joni Pattillo told the City Council at its regular meting that she presented the budget with “tempered optimism” because, although small increases to property tax and sales tax revenues signal an improving economy, the city still must account for unpredictable state finances.
The budget proposal projects $71.7 million in total revenue and $71.5 in total expenditures for 2011-12. Councilman Don Biddle applauded the figure as representing “a truly balanced budget.”
The $71.5-million in projected expenditures for 2011-12 is down $6.1 million from last fiscal year; the city reported $81.6 million in adjusted expenditures that year. The $71.7-million projection of revenue for 2011-12 is almost identical to the 2010-11 projection; the city reported $75.3 million in revenue that year.
The city reported revenues of $21.5 million in property taxes and $12.8 million in sales tax in 2010-11 and projects increases in 2011-12 of about $700,000 and $900,000, respectively.
Pattillo said she felt positive about any revenue increase, however incremental, considering that property tax revenue fell between 2009-10 and 2010-11.
“As we slowly emerge from over three years of falling revenues we are encouraged by the emerging signs of local economic recovery,” Pattillo wrote in a statement to councilmembers. “During the past several months, new businesses have begun to open, and new residential development has come forward."
Staffing and service cuts during the 2008-09 fiscal year “strengthened the city’s financial foundation,” according to Pattillo, saving $4.5 million in expenses over the past three years.
This budget proposal will be the last before the city extends its budget planning to a two-year cycle, which Pattillo said will further improve Dublin’s long-term fiscal health.
“This new budget process will support that philosophy by providing a clearer view of how one-time revenues can best be used for the long-term,” she said.
The budget also proposes adding about four full-time city employees. These employees will “directly support achievement of the Strategic Plan Initiatives and sustain efforts and service levels related to increasing development activity.”
The additional employees will assist in the areas of economic development, environmental topics and with communication between the city and residents.
Pattillo said city staff members have been able to adjust to staff reductions in past years but are becoming increasingly pressed.
“From my perspective, we have a tremendous staff, but some are maxed out,” she said.
Councilman Eric Swalwell said he was pleased that the city will not have to dip into its reserves to balance its budget. Mayor Tim Sbranti agreed, saying those reserves could be used to restore services that have been cut.
“Hopefully the economy continues to improve and maybe we can look at those reserves,” he said. “But there’s still uncertainty.”
Pattillo also presented the city’s five-year capital improvement plan, with expenditures projected to be $13.8 million for 2011-12; capital expenditures were $14.08 million for 2010-11.
Street projects represent 55 percent of total capital expenditures in 2011-12; parks represent 28 percent; and general and community improvements represent the remainder. Projected expenditures for the entire five-year program, which began in 2010, will be $61.2 million, with $33.3 million expected to be spent in the program’s remaining years.
Proposed projects include: upgrades for the and police facility; the construction of Positano Hills Neighborhood Park; and concrete replacement at . Street projects include improvements to Alamo Canal Trail under I-580, Golden Gate Drive near the station and resurfacing of Dublin Boulevard from Sierra Court to Dublin Court.
Biddle said he was impressed that capital projects are continuing at a steady clip, highlighting that expenditures remain almost the same since last year.
“The city’s done a great job of keeping the ball rolling on these things,” he said. “We finished the and are moving onto even more things.”
Councilwoman Kasie Hildenbrand echoed the sentiment, adding that the current economic climate has damaged other cities’ ability to build and improve.
“We’re very fortunate to be in a city that’s done well financially and is able to move forward, even at a slower pace,” she said.
Both the budget proposal and capital improvement plan were approved unanimously, with Councilman Kevin Hart absent.
Available above for download are PDFs of the city’s draft 2011-12 budget and also its five-year capital improvement program.
Also at the meeting:
Program Deferring Traffic Impact Fees Extended to 2013
Council members voted to extend the Traffic Impact Fee Deferral Program for two more years, saying it would entice business and developers to come to Dublin.
The program defers payment of traffic impact fees for non-residential developers in downtown and East Dublin, allowing them to “shift financing of the fees from the construction loan into the fixed financing for the project.” The program was set to expire later this month.
Swalwell said “programs like this have helped bring more development and will continue to.”
The extension proposal was part of the council’s consent calendar, a docket of items that is usually approved without discussion, but council members wanted to discuss it and emphasize its importance in supporting the growth of local business.
Update on City's Sustainable Neighborhood Plans
Council members received an update on the city’s ongoing dialogue with local developers to craft a plan for sustainable growth in Dublin.
The latest draft lays out three overarching goals for the Sustainable Neighborhood Design Strategy: Create neighborhoods with a robust network of internal streets and good connections to surrounding neighborhoods; promote walking and cycling by providing safe, appealing and comfortable street environments that support public health; and improve physical and mental health and social capital by providing a variety of public and private open spaces close to work and home.
So far, the feedback from the development community is good.
Joe Guerra from Argent Management, which is developing Dublin Crossings, said in a statement to the city that, “your draft strategy is very good and has laudable goals which we share.”
“[W]e are very supportive of the direction you are proposing,” Guerra said.