City Council Preview for April 5

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City finances dominate the city council’s April 5 agenda. Still the council will take time to honor two police heroes and possibly make Ocean Blvd a little safer for dogs.

Certificates of commendation will be given to Officers Pat O’Malley and Brain Wray. Each prevented a man from jumping from the bridge. O’Malley saved a man in July 2015 and Wray saved a different man in March 2016.

In March the council voted to discuss City Councilman Richard Bailey’s proposal to install a sidewalk along the perimeter of Sunset Park.

The park sits across from Dog Beach. People taking their dogs to the beach or simply walking them along Ocean Blvd have to take them into a heavily trafficked street or violate an ordinance that banishes dogs from city parks.

Installing a sidewalk will cost approximately $48,000. For an additional $38,000 the city council could approve installing a sidewalk around the entire perimeter of Sunset Park. The extra 500 feet would offer a contiguous walkway around the park.

If the council approves the project, the staff recommends including the sidewalk in its plans for the Sunset Park Improvement Project, which has already been funded. This project will retrofit the park’s irrigation system and replace its turf, which has become uneven over the years.

Tuesday’s meeting also marks the beginning of the city’s annual budget process. The council will consider a report on a multi-year financial forecast and setting priorities for FY 2016-2017.

In the fiscal forecast the city treasurer looks at financial trends to determine whether current services and capital improvements can be maintained and at what level.

The forecast also gives the city council an opportunity to discuss key variables that can impact the city’s balance sheet.

The forecast is based on conservative estimates; however, the staff report did note that there has been an increase in the city’s principle revenue sources – property tax, sales tax and transient occupancy takes – for the next fiscal year.

The two biggest general fund expenditures are personnel and employee pension obligations, and capital projects and facilities refurbishment.

Along with appraising the city’s financial health for the next five years, the council will also set budget priorities for next year from a list of tasks, policy emphasis and projects posted in the council chamber. Each member will then be asked to place stickers on the projects they deem most important. Those projects that receive three or more stickers become priority projects.

This process allows the staff to marshal its resources to projects that the council believes are the most pressing. The John D. Spreckels Center, the Summer Shuttle Bus Service, the Cays Entrance Project, and the Third and Fourth Street Traffic study are just a few examples of the projects that were green lighted and accelerated though this priority-setting process.

There will be a public hearing to consider increasing the city’s traffic mitigation fee to $2,357 from $2,310 in order to continue to receive TransNet sales tax revenue.

The fees are collected on new residential units to mitigate the impacts along State Route 75 and are part of a countywide voter-approved program overseen by SANDAG. The fee does not apply to houses built to replace another dwelling.

TransNet sales tax revenue for FY 2016/2017 is expected to be $589,000. Last year the city collected $24,273.

All the revenues must be used for capital improvements on SR 75. While SANDAG supervises the program, fees are collected by individual cities.

The San Diego Regional Airport Authority will give a presentation on the Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan (ALUCP) it is working on for the area around North Island Naval Air Station.

The council will then select two council members to serve on the ALUCP working group. Besides the working group, the council will select new commissioners for Parks and Recreation and Cultural Arts.

The public meeting commences at 4pm in the City Council Chambers at 1825 Strand Way

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A freelance writer in San Diego for more than 30 years. She has written for a number of national and international newspapers, including the Times of London, San Diego Tribune, Sierra Magazine, Reuters News Service and Patch. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@ecoronado.com