At our June 20, 2011 meeting, the City Council passed the budget for 2011-2012 by a 3-2 vote. I voted against the budget believing that there were substantially more cuts that should have been made to avoid what will now be the spending of $2.5 million of our reserves for ongoing operations. Nonetheless, that vote is over and it is time to move on.
This year we made cuts in just about every area so as to have the least impact on the average Foster City resident. That does not mean that no residents will feel any impact, it simply means that we were able to make most cuts in areas invisible to most people. Next year we will not be so lucky. We are now in a position where 80% of our budget is tied up in employee costs. Although we were able to set precedent and have our public safety employees agree to a two tiered retirement system by setting retirement benefit rates to levels not seen in decades, the ongoing cost of our City staff will continue to be the vast majority of our expenditures for the foreseeable future. What this means is that cuts from today forward will have much more impact than anything we have seen thus far and they will be more difficult decisions to make and more difficult problems to live with.
As anyone who has been reading my Council Corner knows, I have been proposing various alternatives to deal with such issues. As part of that I have written extensively about the village concept and public private partnerships. Now, however, the time for talk has ended and it is time to get to work on these projects.
I would very much like to hear from anyone who is interested in getting involved on the ground floor of the Foster City village project. We will be having our first pre-board meeting in July and we are looking for people to help us get this off the ground.
I also want to get started on plans to promote Foster City businesses and get them more involved with the community. I see a plan for such things as Shop Foster City days during the summer months where participating retailers and restaurants offer specials for Foster City residents on certain days of the week. I would like to see our larger employers also look at ways to become more involved in the community. I would hope to see them want to talk about local sponsorships, greater participation in community events and on community committees. I firmly believe that economic development is essential if we are to keep Foster City the way we want it to be.
Our local schools also have issues that we can deal with as a community. Despite the fact that we are now in the summer months and most schools are closed, this is a great time to start to build a community with the students and parents here in Foster City. Finding a way to fund the school crossing guards, I believe, will provide us with a great place to get that started, but it should be looked as simply a place to start. We have seen great community involvement with our youth sports programs and I think it is time to extend that to our schools, students and parents. We are in a time when depending on government to provide for us has become problematic and by taking the initiative and building community, we can take control of our own collective destiny.
These are three big projects that I hope to get off the ground during the summer and grow during the coming year. I know that there are many of you out there who agree so all you have to do is contact me and we can get started on making our community, our Foster City, a model for the future. Through our collective efforts we can continue to have Foster City be our own paradise on earth.
Those are my thoughts. Tell me what you think. Share your ideas with me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (650) 286-3504.