8/9/2011 Council Preview

Looks like a medium-sized night.

No closed or study sessions, and no presentations or special orders of the day, so we go straight to business. The consent calendar is also light, with a couple of housekeeping issues.

Item 2 involves consideration of Council policy regarding the Budget Stabilization and Contingency Funds. This is a wonkish but very important issue that will affect our fiscal safeguards for the next several years. The Budget Stabilization Fund is a reserve that we theoretically use to smooth out budget fluctuations. If we have a dip in revenue, we use the Fund to cover the deficit without cutting services, and when we are under budget, we place the excess back in the Fund. The Contingency Fund is a different beast – it’s our emergency reserve for when the Big One hits us, and we never, ever touch it.

Staff is suggesting that our use of the BSF is not as intended, and staff is additionally suggesting that we are over-saving in our Contingency Fund. Due to a very difficult decade, we’ve essentially been using the BSF as a revenue source instead of something for smoothing out dips, so staff is proposing some changes to address that. And staff is suggesting that our current policy of maintaining 20% of our operating revenue in the Contingency Fund is excessive, particularly since we’ve never spent a cent of it. So they are proposing a combination of a 15% number plus CPI increases as a change.

Item 3 involves resolving the vacancy created by Councilmember Swegles’ retirement. This will be a bit different than Councilmember Lee’s deployment, because the Charter prohibits Council from appointing a replacement in this situation. Staff is proposing simply leaving the seat vacant until the November election, when the seat will be filled anyway.

Item 4 involves a legally-required response to a County Grand Jury report on rehiring pensioners. This should be quick, because it really doesn’t involve Sunnyvale that much – staff seems to be saying that they’re not recommending any changes except one case that doesn’t apply to Sunnyvale. But we’re legally required to respond, like every other city in the county.

Item 5 has us looking at updating our Council policy titled “Managing for Competitiveness”. I’m still getting into this issue, so I don’t know yet how involved or controversial this one is.

And that’s about it.

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