7/19/2011 Council Preview

This looks to be a light one.

We start the evening with a closed session regarding the Downtown. We then adjourn to a study session regarding our budget stabilization fund and contingency fund. The budget stabilization fund is a reserve account that we’re supposed to use to smooth out revenue highs and lows – we put any surplus money in it, and we draw from it when revenues are below estimates. In recent years, we’ve come to use it not as a stabilization fund but as supplemental revenue, and this will look at what policies we should adopt regarding use of that money. The contingency fund is our “major earthquake wrecks the city” fund, and as such, we deliberately never touch it. But we’ll probably be looking at how to set its target balance, which is currently 20% of revenue. By setting it at 20% of revenue, it means we automatically have 17% less revenue every year, which doesn’t necessarily reflect the actual cost of disaster recovery. So we may look at changes to that – simply dropping the percentage, establishing a fixed balance (“always $40 million”) or other things that the CM or Finance Director may come up with.

Next comes the full session, and the agenda is pretty light. We have a massive consent calendar, mostly involving public works projects (lots of water and sewer main repairs). Then we get into the general business.

Item 2 involves a request for a general plan amendment, to convert commercial zoning to high-density residential. This is the gas station on the north-east corner of Fair Oaks and Old San Francisco. The owner wants to tear it down and put in 24 condos, and staff is saying “no”, so we get to adjudicate it.

Item 3 is an annual requirement that we place utility bill non-payment cases on the property tax rolls.

That brings us to item 4, and since our schedule is otherwise light, this is the kind of thing that should be quick, but which may create a lot of discussion. We’ll be looking at this year’s community grant awards, and unlike past years, the subcommittee is recommending giving only two grants. This is one of those “we may spend a lot of time talking about a very little money” issues. We’ll see.

And that’s it.

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