Mountain View Voice

News - May 2, 2014

A good year for the city budget

Surpluses, not red ink, forecast for Mountain View

by Daniel DeBolt

With Mountain View growing at an unprecedented rate, the city budget is projected to have a surplus for years to come, the city manager said Tuesday.

City Manager Dan Rich expressed relief that no cuts would have to be made this year. "In my nine years of being a city manager, this year has been the most enjoyable after many, many years of cutting (budgets)," he said.

Rich recalled that the city went through four years of budget reductions after the recession, trimming $7.4 million from the city budget and eliminating 31 full-time city employees.

The rosy budget is because of rising property values and property taxes, along with rising sales tax revenue, as consumers have apparently taken five years to resume spending at pre-recession levels. At $33.8 million, property taxes make up 33 percent of the city's general fund budget revenues, city staff said.

It's predicted that in 2014-15, the city's general fund revenues will rise 5 percent to $102 million, with a balance of $2 million left over.

Rich and finance director Patty Kong say there will be an unexpectedly high amount of money left over when this budget year ends on June 30, about $6.5 million, including $1.5 million in reimbursements from developers for city planning services.

Rich proposes putting the money into various reserves, including $915,000 to general fund reserves, $1.2 million into a "compensated absences" reserve," $300,000 into a workers compensation reserve, up to $2 million to a capital improvement reserve, $1 million towards retirees health care costs and $1 million towards growing employee pension costs.

Among $774,000 in other miscellaneous expenses, Rich also proposes $150,000 for the city to hire a mobility coordinator — also called a bike and pedestrian czar — for two years. Another $110,000 could go to hiring a part-time civil engineer to help handle the city's numerous infrastructure projects.

Rich said there wouldn't be any major fee increases, except for increased fees for an increasing number of film crews that have been shooting in Mountain View for TV shows based on Silicon Valley. There is also a recommended 4 percent increase in water rates and a 2 percent increase in garbage rates for residents and businesses.

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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