City Council approves 2019-2020 budget

The City Council on Monday night approved an overall 2019-2020 city operating budget of $28,996,392 — about 5 percent above the 2018-2019 budget,  even though projected General Fund revenues be will up significantly less than that.

That figure was slightly higher than what was presented in detail to the council May 20, a budget they said continues a trend of addressing major long-term expenses incrementally and short-term needs conservatively.

While the operating budget will go up about 5 percent, the city’s anticipated revenues are expected to be less than 1 percent higher than in the now-ending fiscal year. The city is expected to have an 18 percent General Fund reserve, which City Administrator Paul Benoit on May 20 described as “modest.”

On Monday night, Bill Hosler provided the best budget summary.

“We’ve made big progress, but we’re still not funding everything we should be funding, especially in terms of facilities,” said Hosler, a member of Piedmont’s Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee, which works with the City Council on budget issues.

Significant financial issues in the city’s future include $25 million in CalPERS pension unfunded liability, extensive sidewalk repairs and major work for almost every city-owned building or facility, including the community pool.

As is the case in most California cities, Piedmont’s pension costs and retiree medical costs keep rising faster than revenue, and are expected to remain long-term concerns.

Almost 70 percent ($19,658,000) of Piedmont’s 2018-2019 General Fund revenues come from property-related taxes. That is $228,000 more than the 2018-19 amount.

At $18,190,600, personnel costs make up about two-thirds of the city’s General Fund expenditures. That figure is up 4 percent over 2018-2019.

The council on Monday also approved:

*** A $10,112,765 “other funds” budget, fed by money from funds other than the General Fund;

*** A 4.5 percent increase in Piedmont’s Municipal Services Special Tax, to raise the projected $2,352,000 needed to pay for a variety of local services. Single-family residences of up to 4,999 square feet will now be assessed $535, and those between 5,000 and 9,999 square feet at $602. This tax was approved by Piedmont voters in June 2016, as Measure F.

*** The 2019-2020 Special Municipal Sewer Tax. Owners of homes up to 4,999 square feet will pay $599, and those of houses of 5,000 to 9,999 square feet $682.

Contact Sam Richards at  

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