Council approves general fund budget; police and fire union agreements

After several weeks of discussion, the Piedmont City Council on Monday night formally approved a $29.6 million 2020-2021 general fund budget, along with accompanying related budgets and two municipal taxes. 

Though the budget hit is slightly less crippling than first expected because of higher-than-expected real property transfer tax revenue, the 2020-2021 budget will still take an estimated $1.9 million hit because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Combined with an approximate $400,000 reduction in expenses, and a $100,000 reduction in transfers out, the net decrease is anticipated to be about $1.3 million for the coming budget year.

Part of the reason Piedmont’s economic picture isn’t worse, city officials have said, is that its general fund is about 72 percent funded by relatively low-risk property tax-related income, rather than the more volatile sales tax income that has decimated the budgets of some East Bay cities.

The council authorization for collection of the Municipal Services Special Tax. It is assessed based on individual lot size. For homeowners, that annual tax ranges from $548 for a home up to 4,999 square feet to $925 for homes of more than 20,000 square feet. It is expected to raise $2,410,000 from July 2020 through June 2021 for uses which may include, but are not limited to, police and fire protection, street maintenance and other important services.

The council on Monday night also renewed its annual Special Municipal Sewer Tax, which ranges from $613 for a home up to 4,999 square feet to $1,105 or homes of more than 20,000 square feet. 

The City Council led a May 16 Saturday study session, where a detailed budget discussion took place. The council also had a budget-related public hearing on June 1. No substantive changes to the budget were made between June 1 and June 15, city Finance Director Michael Szczech told the council Monday.

Shorter-term union agreements approved

The COVID-19 pandemic also affected the new labor agreements for Piedmont police officers and firefighters, which because of the financial uncertainties accompanying the pandemic, were essentially one-year extensions of the existing agreements.

The council on Monday night approved one-year labor agreements with the International Association of Firefighters Piedmont Local 2683, Local 2683’s Fire Captain Bargaining Unit and the Piedmont Police Officers Association. They officially go into effect July 1.

Three-year contracts with each of these groups were set to expire June 30.

“With COVID-19, it just made sense to extend the existing agreements for one year,” City Administrator Sara Lillevand told the council Monday night. The shorter agreements give both sides a chance to reassess conditions as the pandemic works itself out, she said, and should be advantageous to both the city and the union members.

The one-year agreement calls for all three groups – police officers, firefighters and fire captains – to get a 3 percent base pay increase starting July 1, with additional raises possible with completion of specific training or education. For firefighters, pay will range from $8,233 to $12,651 per month, depending on seniority, education and specific assignments. For police officers, pay ranges from $8,245 to $13,778 per month, depending on seniority, education and specific assignments. 

Contact Sam Richards at

Leave a Reply

The Exedra comments section is an essential part of the site. The goal of our comments policy is to help ensure it is a vibrant yet civil space. To participate, we ask that Exedra commenters please provide a first and last name. Please note that comments expressing congratulations or condolences may be published without full names. (View our full Comments Policy.)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *