At a special session on June 18, the Pleasanton City Council voted unanimously to direct staff to bring a proposed budget on August 6.
This includes the programs, initiatives and capital expenditures listed in the section “2016 Programs and Initiatives” to include: planning, economic development, streets and CIP, water and waterwater CIP, public safety, parks and parks master plan, information technology, human resources, employment capital and allocation and the special funds, as outlined in the FY 2015-2016 draft budget.
Comprising the council are Mayor Clinton J. Powell, Douglas Best (Dist. 1), Abraham Saenz (Dist. 2), Diana Prasifka (Dist. 3), Eliseo Flores (Dist. 4), Robert Earl Wood (Dist. 5) and Travis Hall Jr. (Dist. 6).
After an overview of each department and the city’s many accomplishments, Pleasanton City Manager Bruce Pearson presented his list of recommendations for the general fund, utility fund and special funds for the upcoming fiscal year.
In the area of planning, he explained seeking opportunities for the airport and the areas of expansion and economic development that is ongoing was part of the legislative agenda by the council. Some of the other recommendations: review existing leases, an airport layout plan and runway realignment, zoning, regional drainage study, parks master plan implementation study, future land use assumptions and CIP, which includes water production, distribution and transport project- Crestline to IH 37. Also included is expanding the museum into existing space previously used for meetings or consider a new facility.
In economic development, he suggested seeking opportunities for the airport, access hotel/motel tax funds to improve and/or construct facilities.
In the areas of streets, recommendation include: being and design the construction of phase two of the street reconstruction program, rehabilitate eight intersections and more. Equipment recommended includes a new street sweeper and automatic generator at city hall.
“When the electricity goes out, we are out. It has caused tremendous problems this last spring,” said Pearson.
In Utilities, he cited: construct a production facility with the overhead storage at Crestline is part of the master plan, continue to update the water model and improve water pressures and fire flows are also among some of the recommendations, as well as install a new generator and transfer switch at Public Works if funds are available. In the Wastewater Department, he recommended continuing to identify areas of infiltration. He recommended a smoke test in the Oak Forest Estates, as a result of reviews and analysis during the recent rain events and more.
“In the Public Safety Department, along with the completion of the design and construction of the new fire station, I recommended developing interlocal agreements with Atascosa County and Air Life to house those applicable personnel, adopt a new emergency management plan, finish the command structure for the future full time positions in the fire department, develop job descriptions for those positions, provide better response times by having a full time chief, a lieutenant and a fire fighter on staff and we will better evaluate our equipment.”
In the Police Department, along with completing the accreditation with the Texas Police Chiefs Association, Pearson said, “work for the adoption with the chief of the fire department on an emergency management plan, initiate a security program for existing facilities by first improving security at municipal court, city hall, the civic center and other facilities” and more.
As far as personnel, Pearson recommended: applying for the Firefighter Safer Grant, hire one time, full time firefighter and the city can apply for the firefighter Assistance Grant.
In Police Department, he recommended purchasing rifles for the police department, one patrol bicycle for patrolling special events, security cameras at the municipal court and other facilities and install an automatic gate at the police station back lot.
In Human Resources, he recommended adjusting the market ranges for each position in the city this year, as well as recommend an adjustment in salary somewhere in the two-four percent range cost of living raises for all employees, contingent on the ad valorem values they will get on July 25. He also recommended adding three full time positions in parks, streets, fire and eliminate one full time position in utility administration at city hall.
Towards the end of his presentation, Pearson explained the total of the general fund operating budget being proposed is $9,119,321.08, which is $250,000-$260,000 more than last year.
“Right now we show that budget to show a deficit of about $116,000, but we are operating off of property values and property taxes from this time last year. It will be more finalized on August 6.”
Also included is the debt in the general fund. This includes the interest for 2016, based on the direction from council at the previous meeting to give a notice of intent to issue $4 million to begin phase 2 of the street reconstruction project.
He also explained the revenue in the utlity fund.
“Under a normal year, that we have had the last few years, our projection was about $5.6 million in income. We have not been anywhere close to that. We feel like we are maybe moving into a wet period. As we all know, we go through these three, four or sometimes seven year cycles in South Central Texas with all kinds of water and then none.”
In the next year, he is only projecting $4.6 million in utility revenues. The city has really had to make some adjustments and he applauded the staff for assisting him in this: Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent Gabriel Guerra, Utilities Superintendent David Alviso, Public Works Director Johnny Huizar and Street Department Superintendent John Roberts.
In the Street Reconstruction Fund, he pointed out where the city is accommodating for the additional $4 million in revenue, if the $4 million in debt for phase 2 is issued.
“Mr. McLiney explained at the last meeting, because the city is retiring debt this year, next year the city does not have to raise taxes. It was programmed that way when the master plan was composed,” explained Pearson.
There is $38,000 in the Community Center/ Library Fund. He said the city will transfer that money to the building fund and close that account.
In the utility construction fund, the balance is $5.2 million, which is funding the current water project. That fund was established several years ago, when the council issued debt to drill the well on Crestline.
“We still had about $500,000 left. That is why we only issued $4.8 million for this project, even though it was tagged at about $6.4 million, because we had leftover funds from drilling that well. We had some very competitive prices.”
He added, “The Airport Fund is one of the major expense items this year,” “We want to transfer $105,000 out of the General fund to the airport fund to redo the fuel system.” Presently, many problems have already been diagnosed. They repainted the tank and more. The challenges still remain. It just takes a shift in the wind for people to be unable to get fuel, which results in lost sales.
“Right now, there has been no change on what we are predicting on sales taxes for next year. We might make a change by August 6, depending on how sales tax is looking in July.”
Said Councilman Best before the vote, “I have gone through the budget and spent a lot of time looking through it. It is a very good budget, very strong. It is well-itemized. I think that maybe some of things we were worried about in the past have been addressed and I applaud you.”
Pearson applauded the department heads and the employees.
Pearson highlights city’s accomplishments
Before making his recommendations at the special session, City Manager Bruce Pearson discussed an overview of the departments and their accomplishments.
Pearson began, “The city staff has worked diligently in the past year to implement the programs, policies and initiatives as well as the projects approved by the council in this year’s budget. A major part of that effort put forth in 2015 dealt with several key objectives that followed our strategic guide. When designing a budget, our one big question is what do we need, vs. what do we want for next year?”
He discussed the city’s rapid growth during the last three-four years and highlighted the city’s strategic guide which was adopted in 2012. Some of those key points include: customer service must be their focus, the protection of our citizens and their property ensure the vitality of the community, development and maintenance of the infrastructure to support growth is very important, economic growth must become and has become the heartbeat of the community, water resource development and more.
He discussed the different ways the city has responded to the strategic guide. Some of those include: further implementing the master plan for 2025 in three different areas, implementing two more phases of the CIP portion of the master plan, completing approximately $90 million of economic development in the last year, expanding commercial establishments and securing several developments that offer durable goods.
The city also continues to build a full-time fire department, engage other policing agencies in MOUs in cooperative efforts and is finishing the process of accreditation by the Texas Police Chiefs Association.
“We constructed roadways, intersections and installed over 10,000 feet of water and wastewater lines, added three single family and two multi-family housing projects in the past year, with several others in the planning stages. Industrial and commercial property continue to develop. We have added a new dispatch console and repeater that allows the ability to communicate throughout the county.”
“We have improved our Parks System once again. In this next budget cycle our emphasis once again will be to continue to follow through.”
He reviewed the major objectives that staff implemented in 2015. He further discussed upgrades to the city’s web site, customer service training seminar for employees throughout the city, the design and first phase of the street capital improvements program and more.
“Accommodating new development has once again been a priority for the city staff.
City staff was an emphasis as well. With the impact of the Eagle Ford continuing to impact our community by its somewhat reduced scope, we remain cognizant of the value of this unusual economic development for our city. The city staff has solidified processes and procedures to accomdodate the development and the results have been remarkable.”
“This past year, a team of five staff members have directed all the economic development in Pleasanton to a tune of $90 million. Although economic development has apparently peaked at this time, the city staff continues to search for better procedures and continue to work with owners, developers and contractors for a better Pleasanton,” added Pearson.
Pearson highlighted some of the ways in which the city and staff work together, such as completing one annexation and beginning the process on another, adopted a new water conservation and drought contingency program and ordinance, directed the purchase of the Cardinal Badge software program for police department and six new police Cruisers, recognized numerous employees and residents for their contributions and more.
Pearson recognized Mr. Johnny Huizar and parks personnel for the work in the Parks System.
“This is what has happened in the Parks System. We completed reconstruction of the playscape at the River Park, we completed renovation of the swimming pool to include resurfacing the entire pool. We built new picnic areas. We installed new restrooms and stalls, we installed and purchased an ADA compliant lift, we completed refiguration of the pumps in the chlorination system. We installed new pool lighting underneath the surface of the water that had not worked.”
Other accomplishments by the Parks Department: established a walking path in the pecan orchard, completed the reconfiguration of the sprinkler system at the River Park soccer fields to more evenly distribute in a professional manner, the irrigation system so we can manage the turf. At the pavilion they painted, did electrical upgrades and installed new lighting at all three pavilions. They completed renovations of the basketball courts to include striping and new light fixtures. We completed the renovation of restrooms and concession stand. The ball fields went through a complete review and they instituted a new turf grass management program.
Pearson also discussed Community Development services. They designed and installed the lighting of the River Park basketball courts with the Parks Department, they assisted with various projects at the library, They continued in many other projects.
“I will tell you that 3/4 of these are not their normal job duties. Mr. David Haley (Plumbing Inspector), Mr. John Raney (Community Development Supervisor), along with John Metting (City Engineer) who assisted in the permitting side, it is not unusual for them to get out of bed at 2:30 a.m. because we had a problem at a lift station, etc.”
He noted that these departments have saved our citizens thousands and thousands of tax dollars. He asked that they stand up for a round of applause.
“Ladies and gentlemen I thank you because I know what you do, and I know you know what each other does and you have done many things that would normally take years and years to accomplish for our city and my hat is off to you,” said Pearson.
He said he would not go through all the accomplishments of the other departments. He didn’t want them to think they were being slighted, as the information was in their packet for them to review and possibly comment on.
Pearson said the protection of our citizens and their property is paramount and customer service is paramount. “With the help of the Street Department, the Police Department and others we have replaced untold broken valves, fire hydrants that didn’t function and other things throughout the downtown area this last year and a half, that is now providing that protection to the folks and their property and I want to also thank those other departments that are here this evening.”
He also mentioned public safety personnel has done a miraculous job the last three years: the fire department, police, dispatchers, volunteer fire department as well. He said through the initiatives they have put forth, traffic accidents are down about 60 percent in the last two years.
“Due to the leadership of both chiefs, we have been able to continually operate and work with other communities, other departments. We are working with other departments throughout the 81st district and we will continue to do so. Thanks to both chiefs and their departments. We appreciate your work and you truly are the vanguards of our city.”
He discussed the two types of budget designs: performance based budgeting and program based budgets.
He also reviewed the programs and initiatives for next year. The next steps of the master plan are already in the implementation stages. The staff has completed the feasability, floor plan and rendering stages of the new fire station that will be located on the west side of the city. He said the online utility payment module has significantly reduced the workload in the accounts receivable area, with over 1,114 customers online now and increasing.
Other technologydriven issues include the Cardinal badge system program for the police department.
“The development of our division of the facilities and activities has been another integral part of our overall success in the past year. That’s Mr. Earl Peterson and his folks. In that area, the development of a new parks ordinance and also user agreements led by the mayor, for our leagues and organizations has been vital to the extensive use of our facilities and athletic fields.”