The Pleasanton City Council approved the 2022-23 midterm budget and capital improvement program during last week's meeting, which included a plan to move $1 million from the rainy day reserve funds to the skate park project at Ken Mercer Sports Park.
In a 3-2 vote, the council decided on June 21 to go against staff's suggestion of not taking any money out of the rainy day funds and maintaining a 30.7% city reserve level, which was more than the 30% maximum level recommended by city policy. The target percentage, according to policy practice, is 25% and the minimum the city should have is 20%.
City Manager Gerry Beaudin said the city will move those $1 million to the skate park project but these appropriated funds will not lead to the project being finished any sooner.
"It has been a project first discussed in 2014; it's been a long-term project with a lot of public support," Vice Mayor Valerie Arkin said. "To me it seemed like a good decision to put like that million back and then that puts us at 30% with our city reserve, which is our maximum according to our policy."
She said it was not only a fiscally responsible decision, but also a fair one because of the council's move during a May 31 budget workshop to take away $1 million from the skate park project and use that for the Century House repair project instead.
That money was originally going to be paired with $2 million that the council majority voted on May 31 to take out of the rainy day fund for the sake of fully funding the historic 150-year-old house on Santa Rita Road that was deemed unsafe in the last decade.
But after that meeting, city staff received a final bid price for the Pleasanton Public Library roof repair, one of the other capital improvement program priority projects list, which came out to be much less expensive than anticipated.
According to the staff presentation, the roof repair approximately costs $525,000 instead of the original $2.7 million that was appropriated at the May 31 meeting, a difference of $2.2 million.
Because of the reduction, city staff recommended using the $2.2 million difference for the Century House rather than dipping into the rainy day reserves.
But Arkin instead motioned to use an alternative staff provided of taking the $1 million from the rainy day funds and moving it to the skate park project.
That recommendation prompted Councilmember Kathy Narum to attempt passing a substitute motion to not take any money from the reserves as she believed it is more important to honor strong economic foundations.
"I don't see anything economically that suggests we're not in for some rough times," Narum said.
Councilmember Jack Balch agreed with the substitute motion and said that even though the city was over its maximum reserve levels, there are still uncertainties and unforeseen events that could call for those emergency funds.
"I am concerned that taking the reserve down to allocate it to a project of any type that will not be fully funded is not necessarily in our best interest," Balch said.
The substitute motion failed with a 2-3 vote, and Arkin's motion subsequently passed 3-2 with Balch and Narum dissenting.
Other key allocations in the capital improvement program that were approved included the library work, which will be fully funded to start construction on repairing the roof, lights and a fire control panel, and $2.5 million being allocated to general West Las Positas Boulevard repairs that will be done intermittently.
Additionally, a cricket field will also be fully funded but the city has not determined a specific location for the field and is evaluating three potential locations at Ken Mercer Sports Park that meet the minimum field size requirements.