Petaluma council OKs goals for city
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 7:55 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 7:55 a.m.
The Petaluma City Council on Monday formally adopted a lengthy list of goals for the next two years that aim to stabilize the city’s financial footing, encourage transit-oriented growth and seek new revenue sources.
The 20 pages of ongoing and new objectives were hammered out during a daylong goal-setting session last month, so Monday’s motion came with little discussion and unanimous approval from the seven council members.
In an effort to replace redevelopment funds lost to the state, the council vowed to consider placing a sales tax increase on the 2014 ballot to fund city services.
A similar plan was dropped by the council last year when only three council members supported it.
City employees unions opposed a half-a-percentage point increase to the existing 8 percent sales tax that would have gone into the general fund, which the council has free rein on how to spend. The employees wanted guarantees on how the money would be spent before supporting an increase.
The next opportunity for the city to seek such a tax increase is November 2014.
The goals list includes a new position in the finance department that will cost more than $100,000 a year.
The general fund budget has shrunk from $48 million in 2008 to about $32 million this year. Services have been cut or privatized and workers accepted unpaid furloughs and pay cuts. About five dozen positions were cut from the city workforce.
A funding source for the new finance job hasn’t been unveiled.
Other top goals include reducing debt service in all city funds, reducing the unfunded pension liabilities and developing a plan to meet the 15 percent general fund reserve policy — currently the reserve fund is about 3 percent.
The council also wants to encourage transit-oriented development, particularly around the planned SMART train station downtown; develop a policy on medical marijuana “grow houses”; and work out a plan to benefit financially from the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds.
Fair directors also are considering their own economic development options. Since 1936, the city has leased land for $1 a year to the state, which runs the fairgrounds with a board of directors. The existing lease runs through 2023.
You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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