City budget deficit shrinks to $750,000


Unexpected savings in health care costs helped reduce the city's budget deficit from a projected $1.1 million down to $750,000.

The savings is largely thanks to Alliant Inc, the city's new health insurance broker, which has done an "excellent job" in helping to reduce health care costs for the city, said City Manager Dan Rich in a staff report presented in a City Council study session Tuesday, June 5.

The city has also budgeted $60,000 for a new wellness program that gives employees incentives to receive biometric screenings to find health problems early. "We do think it's worthwhile," Rich said, adding in an email: "Our hope, and expectation, is that this program will lead to healthier employees and lower insurance costs over time."

The previous deficit projection was based on a 12 percent increase in health insurance rates, but instead officials saw a 4.75 percent increase from Kaiser and a 10.75 percent increase from HealthNet, which caused the revision.

Council members had no comments about the city's general fund budget on Tuesday, except to thank city staff. A final budget is set for approval on June 12.

To balance the budget, Rich still plans to implement the same strategy proposed for the $1.1 million deficit, including $600,000 reduction in employee compensation costs. Rich said the remaining balance would go to reserve funds used to balance previous budgets.

The city has made $6.9 million in budget cuts over the last four years but expenditures continue to outpace growth. This year, sales taxes were down by 3.7 percent because the city lost the Mini car dealership and a third of the San Antonio Shopping Center is under redevelopment. Tax revenue may be better next year, but it is unlikely that city staffing levels will return to pre-Recession levels, Rich writes, so there will have to be "realistic" expectations of city staff.

Members of the City Council came to a consensus Tuesday that fully funding a teen center inside the former Rock Church is more important than rebuilding a new median on Shoreline Boulevard.

While funded with $1.1 million, the new Escuela Avenue teen center needs an additional $800,000 to allow "full use" of both the interior and exterior of the church building, city staff members reported.

Council member Ronit Bryant proposed to split the costs of completing the center between two sources: $5.9 million in uncommitted park land funds and money that may have gone to a $437,000 rebuild of the Shoreline Boulevard median between El Camino Real and Villa Street.

"Let's put all the money that needs to be put into it and let's have it complete," said Bryant of the teen center. "We've been working on it for years."

Council members Margaret Abe-Koga and Mike Kasperzak said they agreed. Council member Laura Macias said teens should be asked how they wanted to spend the money, much of which could go toward repaving the parking lot.

Bryant said a vegetable garden at the teen center would be an appropriate use of the park land money, and would allow teens to grow food for the cooking classes many said they wanted.


Like this comment
Posted by Shoreline West
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 7, 2012 at 1:55 pm

What's wrong with the median on Shoreline?

Like this comment
Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Sounds like an excuse to start spending taxpayer money.

Like this comment
Posted by Tony
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Once again, these council members focus on the real problems. Bryant is obsessed with that stupid median. Get over it. We have other fish to fry.

Like this comment
Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Let's see.. we're short $750,000 but they want to spend an additional $800,000 on a teen center we've already spent $1,000,000 on.

Just exactly why do we need a teen center? I can remember being a teen, in Mountain View. I didn't have time to hang out a teen center. I got myself a job.

Like this comment
Posted by @ otto
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 7, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Life was different when you were a teen.
Plus teen-agers cannot work until 15 or 16. That leaves a lot of kids without a place to be.
AND, adults cannot even find jobs these days...not so easy for teens.

Like this comment
Posted by Gale
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 7, 2012 at 6:10 pm

How about replacing those massive broken planter vases in the median of San Antonio as you approach the Caltrain overpass heading toward California? The overpass and approach is a dump compared to what Palo Alto is investing in San Antonio. As it stands now it's the gateway into the ghetto.

Like this comment
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 7, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Hmmm, the city is thinking about spending fairly big bucks on things we don't have to have while with out comment reducing spending on city staff by $600,000. If I were a city employee I would think the city does care about me which is not good from my point of view as a city resident.

Like this comment
Posted by @Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm


"on things we don't have to have" mean the Teen Center. I guess you say that because you are not a teen, nor do you work full-time and have a teen at home.

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Posted by Dominick
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm

The City council just does not apply the questions that a business must use when deciding about capital funds. (Maybe because it's not their money.)

1. Must have
2. Should have
3. It would be nice to have.
The teen center falls under number 3,"It would be nice to have." The shoreline median is a number 2, "Should have."
Note there is no number 1, "Must have."

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Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 7, 2012 at 10:45 pm

The $750,000 is a nice win, considering that if the City hadn't done its due diligence to shop around for health benefits, it would not have realized the savings.

Also encouraging to hear that Mr. Rich still intends to proceed with reducing the budget by $600,000 in employee costs, to stave off the impending deficit, regardless of this latest windfall.

But I'm still watching and hoping to see more progress with the City's negotiations with the unions, when their contracts come due for renewal. This will be a way to make long term gains on balancing the budget.

Like this comment
Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 8, 2012 at 10:56 am

How was life different when I was a teen? Seriously.. explain this to me.

I got a job when I was 16. Had a job of one kind (PT or FT) even since.

Please tell me what has changed to make it so the taxpayers should pay for a place for teenagers to hang out.

When I was a teen I called that the backyard, or the front yard, or the local park my "teen center".

Like this comment
Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2012 at 5:28 pm

A teen center is what progressive busybodies come up with as a solution for Mountain View's gang problem. Notice that the teen center is in the epicenter of the gang bario.

Why not take that $800,000 and instead hire 10 more cops devoted to busting gangs and scaring the living daylights out of ne'er-do-well teens. The good teens won't use the teen center anyway, they are all working jobs or studying. The center is for the bad teens. Enforce the laws on those bad teens, and maybe you'll change their lives, instead of just giving them a fancy place to play video games.

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Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 9, 2012 at 10:46 am

I think the teen center is also right next to the "very nice" old peoples ghetto. [full disclosure - I'm officially an old foggie and am eligible and have used the Senior Center] Gimmie a break. This area of the city has much higher apartment density (= no front yard) than my neighborhood. Property owners will much more appreciate an effort to decrease youth problems than spiff-up Shoreline median. Really - hadn't noticed a problem there! Good call Council!

Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Was once a teen, I too did work, did study. I do remember some of the youth programd both public and private. We didn't have teen center, would have been. A rec center, with a library and swimming pool would have been nice at Cuesta Park. Oh by the way I was pre video games.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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