6/11/2013 Council Preview – Annual Budget Hearing and Ballot Measures

This is possibly going to be the longest night in quite a while.

We start the evening with two Commission candidate interviews.  These are two incumbents asking for reappointment.  Through the existing process, they were invited to submit an application, but they weren’t offered a chance to interview – we simply didn’t used to offer interviews to candidates or incumbents who had interviewed relatively recently.  We’ve changed that process, and we delayed appointment to the two affected commissions until the interviews could be conducted.

We then have a closed session involving the potential sale of the Raynor Activity Center.  I’d encourage you to read the description of the closed session, because you may be able to divine from the public notice some of what the closed session involves.

We then get into business.  No special orders or presentations, so it’s right into it.  The consent calendar includes three grants, handling of unclaimed utility bill funds, the November election resolution, annual NOVA approvals, and a second ordinance reading.  There’s an interesting one in here, though.  We’re potentially approving a contract for designing the expansion of Orchard Gardens park.  You may recall that we own three houses in a row next to Orchard Gardens.  A few years ago, we decided to demolish those houses to increase the size of Orchard Gardens Park and create an entryway feature for the neighborhood.  The long-term capital plans have finally brought this issue forward, and this will start the work of doing just that.

Item 2 has us revisiting the Cupertino Middle School Open Space Plan.  I believe the City Manager and the Superintendent are coming back to us with a compromise agreement.

Item 3 is the remainder of the outstanding board and commission appointments.

Item 4 is our annual public hearing on the budget.  This isn’t the actual vote on the budget, but rather the opportunity for people to give us their feedback on it.

Item 5 is our annual public hearing on the proposed fees and fines schedule.  There are a number of proposed changes to fees.  Some of them are to cut applicants a break for cases where we’re simply charging them too much.  Others are new ones to handle situations that staff has encountered.

Item 6 is our annual review and approval of water, wastewater, and solid waste utility rates.  Staff is proposing a 5% increase in water rates, a 6.5% increase in wastewater rates, and a 4% increase in solid waste and recycling rates.  This one may get contentious, as some misinformation is being circulated about the solid waste rate increase in particular.  Staff issued a report to Council after the SMaRT Station contract amendment was approved, to explain the circumstances in simpler language, to help those who are misunderstanding why the amendment was necessary.

Item 7 deals with deficits in our Golf and Tennis Enterprise Funds.  These two services are supposed to be run as standalone, self-sustaining businesses that don’t rely on general funds.  However, the fund is running at a loss this year because of the unexpected departure of the restaurant operator, which caused the number of played golf rounds to drop dramatically.  We’ve got a new operator, and staff believes that the golf and tennis fund will recover if we get past this year’s problem.

Item 8 has us considering a ballot measure to shift Sunnyvale’s elections from odd years to even years.  This has historically been a contentious issue.  However, circumstances have changed since we last considered this, with the City of Cupertino and all remaining school districts having shifted to even years, leaving Sunnyvale as the last odd-year jurisdiction.  So it may be less contentious this time.

Item 9 has us considering a ballot measure to increase Sunnyvale’s Transit Occupancy (TOT) tax (or hotel tax) from 9.5% to 10.5%.  We recently discussed this and voted to pursue this, so the discussion will hopefully be brief on this.

And item 10 has us discussing a ballot measure to raise Sunnyvale’s minimum wage.  This one hasn’t been discussed before, so it may be more involved.

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