Why Portola Valley budget grew 19 percent
Significant increases in revenues and spending are everywhere in the Portola Valley town budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, but there are plausible explanations for them all.
The budget shows projected revenues to the general fund of $4,588,589 and expenses of $4,584,201. The figures represent 19 percent increases over the previous year and include a surplus of $4,388.
The Town Council reviewed the budget on June 20 and will meet again on Wednesday, June 27, to hold a public hearing and vote on the budget.
Projected changes for 2012-13 include:
• An $85,000 line item for the Blues & Barbecue festival: $50,000 in revenues dedicated to the purchase of open space, and $35,000 to put on the festival.
• A $20,000 contribution by Stanford University to maintain the Dwight Crowder Trail, which the university recently rerouted in connection with the stipulations in its operating permit. This funding passes through for trail maintenance, including a pilot program to study invasive weed removal.
• Contributions toward the $588,000 renovation of Ford (baseball) Field, including $232,000 in state grants, up to $100,000 from the Little League, a $100,000 matching grant from the Sand Hill Foundation, public generosity, and possibly $80,000 from the sale of 100,000 shares of stock given to the town in 2007. Revenues would pay for expenses, if the project goes ahead.
• Some $137,000 from the state to repay a loan to the state of property tax revenues from Portola Valley (and all other cities, towns and special districts) to replenish education funding in 2009, provided that the loans be repaid with interest within three years.
• A $65,000 increase in revenues generated by higher fees for Town Hall services such as building permits.
The council expressed general satisfaction to Town Manager Nick Pegueros for the budget, though Councilwoman Ann Wengert asked whether the Finance Committee had commented on a projected 17 percent increase in costs for employee health insurance premiums and a 9 percent increase in state retirement contributions.
"These are catastrophically large when you look at them as an annual change," Ms. Wengert said.
The Finance Committee meets in late July and town staff should have recommendations for the council in August, Mr. Pegueros replied, adding: "I think there are some win/wins for the town and the employees."
Other notable expenses projected for the coming fiscal year include:
• A budget of $4,200 for the new Bicycle, Pedestrian & Traffic Safety Committee.
• A capital equipment budget of $67,500, which includes $29,000 for a new tractor to replace the current 32-year-old tractor, $30,000 for a portable emergency radio transmitter, and $8,500 for a microphone system for council and commission meetings in the Historic Schoolhouse.