Sat07262014

News

LA council approves budget, capital projects

The Los Altos City Council last week approved the city’s 2014-2015 fiscal year operating budget with a unanimous vote. The council also voted 3-2 in favor of adopting an updated 2014-2015 to 2018-2019 capital improvement program (CIP).

The split vote came after Mayor Megan Satterlee successfully sought the elimination of a $50,000 special projects and studies provision of the CIP in future years that the city has previously used to fund new, unanticipated opportunities. The city’s installation last year of new electric-vehicle charging stations at the civic center and Parking Plaza 3, for example, were funded through the special projects and studies provision.

Councilmembers Jarrett Fishpaw and Val Carpenter cast dissenting votes on the matter. Projects funded for the 2014-2015 year include $1.6 million in sewer/wastewater system repairs and maintenance, $1.6 million in upgrades to an existing Miramonte Avenue bicycle pathway that stretches from Covington Road to Foothill Expressway, and $260,000 for Parking Plaza 3 driveway and aisle repaving.

Overall, the city’s 2014-2015 operating budget projects $32.7 million in general-fund revenue – 74 percent of it ($24.1 million) tax revenue. The figures represent a 7.5 and 8.25 percent increase, respectively, over the previous fiscal year – which ended June 30. Conversely, a total of $32.1 million in general-fund expenses is anticipated for 2014-2015, according to a city staff report.

As in previous years, property taxes constitute the largest portion (65 percent) of all tax revenue, at a projected $15.7 million. Sales tax ($2.8 million) and the city’s utility users’ tax ($2.75 million) round out the top three tax-revenue sources. All three sources are anticipated to increase between 4 and 8 percent from the previous year.

General-fund adjustments approved by the council and earmarked for the 2014-2015 year include funding a maintenance lead worker position ($109,100) and software upgrades ($408,440), among other expenditures. Additional adjustments are geared toward the purchase of two unmarked police vehicles ($65,000) and two city hall pool cars ($73,000).

The council also approved a slew of additional fund transfers prior to the end of the 2013-2014 fiscal year last week, including $680,000 toward a 20 percent general-fund operating reserve fund, a $500,000 transfer to the city’s community facility renewal fund and a $700,000 transfer to a new technology upgrade fund. Another $1.275 million went toward the CIP – including $375,000 for the city’s joint interoperable police communications system it shares with the cities of Mountain View and Palo Alto.

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