Thursday, August 23, 2007

Town Budget Adopted

On August 15th, the Town Council adopted a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2007-08. The budget maintains staffing at current levels and maintains all current services to the residents of Fairfax. We project continued recovery from the flood disaster of December 31, 2005, and the ongoing pursuit of all reimbursements owed the Town. Furthermore, our budget allows us to continues moving forward with Capital Projects that were deferred last year, and funds the Energy Efficiency Project for retrofitting Town facilities, at $114,000.

As residents are aware, the Town has many needs that we are not able to fund due to revenue limitations, and thus the list of needed but unfunded projects is long. Due to ending some unusual one-time revenue sources, the Town ended the fiscal year in approximately $356,000 in the positive. After considering many important needs, the Town Council decided to use the funds on the following fiscal and physical safety priorities.

Reserves: The Town Council has committed to increasing our reserve fund, which serves as a rainy day savings account for economic uncertainty, reducing the Town’s financial risk. The Town Council has directed the transfer of $141,944 transfer to our reserves, currently $858,056 which creates a new total reserve of $1 million. This is a very positive move for the Town and enhances our financial security.

300 Olema Road Flood Mitigation Project: The Town Council committed additional funding to completed this sorely needed project, which will alleviate the repeated flooding at Olema Road and Village West.

Upper Scenic Road Retaining Wall: The Town Council allocated funding to install a new retaining wall to repair December 2005 landslide damage on Scenic Road. The road is at risk of further failure if permanent repair measures are not taken. At the initiative of Mayor Larry Bragman, a meeting was held recently with State Office of Emergency Services (OES) officials and representatives from Senator Carole Migden’s office, where we toured the landslide on Scenic Road. The Town had appealed this project to OES and FEMA, urging that they provide the Town with financial support for the project due to the imminent public safety hazard and the threat to the road. Mayor Bragman’s lobbying and follow-up has resulted in the OES agreeing to fund a geotechnical study of the slide situation, and to strongly consider funding the entire project. If this turns out positive, the Town may be reimbursed approximately $100,000, which we could in turn use for some of our unfunded projects (described in more detail below).

Bus Shelter at 2525 Sir Francis Drake: The Town Council also committed funding to install a bus shelter in an area near apartment complexes with many public transit riders. The shelter will encourage bus use and shield the transit riders from the elements.

The remaining list of unfunded projects was long, and the Town Council has prioritized the following projects, to be funded when and if additional monies become available:

  1. Americans with Disabilities Act transition plan.
  2. Consultant for Noise Element of the General Plan.
  3. Widened driveway curb cuts on Sir Francis Drake for the five residences impacted by the new sidewalk across from the Manor bridge.

Prop. 1B Funding: The Proposition 1B State bond funding approved by the voters in November 2006 is minimally estimated at $400,000 for Fairfax. The State has not yet decided which fiscal year(s) the funds will be allocated. The allowed uses of these funds include: repair and maintenance of existing road and drainage infrastructure that does not currently have a dedicated revenue source; traffic safety projects; and use as a local match to obtain State and/or Federal transportation funds for similar purposes. As the funding becomes certain, staff will program these funds into the budget.

Measure F Funding: In 2005, the public generously approved Measure F, providing five years of augmented general fund monies of approximately $465,000 per year. This funding expires with the 2010-11 budget year, three years from the adoption of the current budget. During the public discussion leading up to the vote on Measure F, the Council agreed to undertake strategic planning and look at other ways of doing business. The Council undertook this exercise during the 2006-2007 fiscal year, which included the establishment of, and report from, a citizen’s Economic Development Advisory Committee. The Council has also been discussing with neighboring communities ways to reduce costs for police and fire services. Because these efforts are ongoing, the Council has not as of the adoption of this 2007-08 budget reached consensus on identification of revenue sufficient to offset Measure F revenue upon its expiration.