In a 525-word commentary emailed to the Pleasanton Weekly, City Manager Nelson Fialho took exception to an Aug. 10 editorial in this newspaper that said taxpayers would pay $500,000 to move an asphalt plant away from Vineyard Avenue neighborhoods. He also disagreed with the newspaper's position that the public information officer he is recruiting would be paid $90,000 and that the job is unnecessary as structured.
His comments, which will also be posted as an Opinion piece in the newspaper's Aug. 17 editorial pages, follow:
"I just read your editorial of Aug. 10 and feel that I need to clarify some facts for you.
In regards to Granite Asphalt Plant, you state that the taxpayers of Pleasanton will "pick up" the tab for a portion of its location. This is not an accurate statement. The source of funds do not come from tax-generated revenue but rather a special grant provided to the city by Centex Homes--a housing developer in the Vineyard Corridor affected by the nearby asphalt plant.
Because this developer and the city had a mutual interest in seeing the asphalt plant move to a more suitable location, Centex Homes placed $500,000 in escrow at the time the project was approved by the City Council for the sole purpose of relocating the plant in the future. We are using these funds to relocate the plant. Again, no taxpayer funds are being used for this purpose.
In regards to the new Public Information Officer position, it was not without extensive consideration that I decided to create this position. With a residential population of 68,000 and a daytime employee base of more than 56,000, there are quite a number of people with whom the city needs to communicate. As well, there are increasingly more outlets through which people expect to receive and share information, and it is my goal that the city be as timely and responsive as possible. This goes well beyond interfacing with your paper. It is at the core of our vision for the organization, which is to provide timely, accurate and thoughtful information to the public.
It is important that our residents are aware of all that the city is doing to sustain and enhance the quality of life we have come to enjoy in Pleasanton. The PIO will not only perform more traditional public information activities (e.g., developing a community newsletter, preparing media releases), but will also serve as a primary customer service contact for citizens with issues or concerns.
The position will also administer the city's Web site. While our department staff will continue to interface with the public as they do now, including interactions with you and your reporters, the PIO will support them in public outreach efforts so they have more time to devote to their respective departments' programs and services. Other cities, including our very own school district, have developed similar positions that function very effectively, adding value to the organization and the community.
By the way, the $90,000 you cite is not the starting salary for the position; rather the starting range for the position is expected to be around $72,000. Additionally, this position was reflected in the city's operating budget and was recommended by my office as a result of several reorganizations. There is no net change in the city's staffing structure as a result of this position."
Click on the following link to read the editorial to which Fialho is responding: http://www.pleasantonweekly.com/story.php?story_id=2803