When budgeting for the 2010-11 fiscal year, city officials anticipated an 8 percent reduction in property tax revenue, but on July 1, the city learned that Oakley’s Assessed Valuation dropped by only 2.8 percent (approximately $75 million). At the request of Mayor Pat Anderson, the council unanimously agreed – including Vice Mayor Jim Frazier’s “heck yeah” vote – to provide staff with compensation for the three days they’ll take off as part of the recently established Thanksgiving furlough.
According to Anderson, the compensation is an expression of gratitude for the staff’s outstanding work during difficult economic times. “Our employees have been hit hard and have been incredibly understanding (about the furloughs), and I believe we have an ability to provide some type of appreciation for the impact,” Anderson said. “…Our Thanksgiving furlough days are equivalent to about 1.15 percent (of the annual salary), and if we provided an appreciative amount in that, it would be about $30,000 to let our employees know that we have appreciated the gifts that they have provided for us to adjust our budgets.”
The furlough program amendment subjects city staff to only 20 furlough days during the fiscal year as opposed to the original 23, according to City Manager Bryan Montgomery. At the mid-year budget review, he said the staff and council will evaluate the budget to see if any more budgetary wiggle room exists to reduce the number of furlough days.
Councilmember Carol Rios said she was happy the council amended the furlough program and showed city employees – especially over the Thanksgiving holiday – that they’re appreciated.
In other council news, Montgomery informed the public and the council that no one has applied to represent Oakley on the Contra Costa County Advisory Council on Aging, which advises the Area Agency on Aging on all matters related to the development and administration of senior programs in accordance with the mandates of the Older Americans Act. The Advisory Council is composed of 40 members, comprising one representative from each city in the county. The appointment carries a two-year term. Oakley’s appointee recently resigned.
Applications may be picked up Mondays through Fridays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Oakley Civic Center, 3231 Main St. Applications must be returned to the Oakley City Clerk by 5 p.m. on Friday, July 23.
In addition, East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Interim Fire Chief Hugh Henderson provided the council an update of the district’s status, including the recent decision to close Station 57 in Byron and Station 58 in Discovery Bay, which goes into effect on July 16.
Anderson, who is a member of the ECCFPD board of directors, explained to the audience that the closures were a difficult decision to make. “Nobody likes to make people angry. And the budget is a challenge indeed, and the board made the best decision we can. We look forward to finding additional revenue sources and finding a way to help the East Contra Costa Fire District out of what I consider a dire situation. When your budget revenues are $8 million and you’re spending $11 million, that’s just not good. So we’ll continue to work on that, and I have all the faith in the nine members who sit on the board.”
Not only was Oakley’s Station 93 spared the chopping block; it’s on track to receive a long-overdue makeover. The council also unanimously approved on Tuesday a resolution that the city enter a design-build agreement with Ascent Builders, Inc., based in Sacramento, for the design and construction of Station 93, which will be relocated from Second Street to La Viña Way. The relocation is a joint effort between the city, the fire district, Contra Costa County and the Oakley Redevelopment Agency. The project is expected to cost $3.2 million.
BART Board Director Joel Keller also made a presentation informing the public about a pilot program BART has begun that provides $50 BART passes to members of the military on leave from Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom. To qualify, military personnel must provide a military ID as well as their request and authority for leave document.
“The BART board is very interested in making sure these young people, who are doing a heck of a lot more for us than we are doing for them, get the full benefit of this program,” Keller told the council. Those on military leave interested in taking part in the program may contact Keller at 510-464-6095 for further information.
The council also took time out of its busy agenda to honor Oakley resident Kristen Cravens, who participated in the Major League Baseball Hit, Pitch and Run Competition’s girls division for 9- and 10-year-olds. Kristen was the only player from East County – as well as the only girl from all of Contra Costa County – to place first in final competition.
Mark Foley, Kristen’s coach on the Delta Baseball League’s Bats Team, also offered his congratulations to Kristen for her effort. “She is an outstanding young lady, a wonderful player – someone who’s always at practice and a positive influence on the team. She’s always there with a smile. Always ready to try hard. Always ready to get dirty if it means sliding, diving – whatever it takes – but more than that, she’s always there for her teammates.”
Kristen accepted her proclamation but was too shy to share her thoughts with the crowd.
The next Oakley City Council meeting is scheduled for Aug. 10.