His hands were full from the start and now he finds himself presenting the city’s first five-year strategic plan, locked into difficult contract negotiations with the police union and proposing water rate increases that total 72% compounded over three years starting this fall if the council agrees. He laid this out while discussing the issues with GraceWay Church men Monday morning.
The last council meeting drew quite a crowd, many concerned about the ongoing union negotiations for police officers and sergeants. Beaudin explained that the city’s goal is to pay at the median level of comparable cities because Pleasanton has plenty to offer that other cities do not. Would you rather police in Pleasanton or Oakland or Richmond? Not a hard call unless you’re an action junkie.
Beaudin said the city’s offer totaling $6.6 million is the highest ever offered to the bargaining group—a 15% raise for officer and 18% for sergeants. The city has 475 employees and this agreement covers 75 of them. He is trying to strike the balance between bringing the police up to the median level while not affecting the other 10 city departments. The city spends 24.!% of its $150 million general fund on police services. He said he’s hoping to reach an agreement before the state-mandated fact finding takes place late next month.
It's particularly significant because the city’s first 10-year fiscal forecast shows expenses, at the current levels of service, exceeding revenues in the out years. That’s a situation Pleasanton hasn’t faced in decades since Stoneridge mall opened and the north Pleasanton business parks and auto malls developed. Major portions of the mall are now scheduled for redevelopment after the closure of both Sears and Nordstrom and the decline of enclosed malls.
The predictions led the council to ask the staff to research options for raising more money with a bond issue or a local sales tax increase—something I thought I’d never see Pleasanton float given its enviable tax base.
Turning to water rates, Pleasanton runs its water and sewer funds as break-even enterprise programs—they’re not revenue producers. Projections show the water fund going seriously upside down ($25 million below reserve target) in the next three years. The problem: rates were adjusted only for inflation from 2011-2020 with the exception of no increase in 2017 and no increases for the last three years. So residents are saving money, but the enterprise fund is diminishing.
Pleasanton’s current rates, about $500 per year for 8 units, are at the bottom of Bay Area agencies. Even after the proposed rate increase—about $34 in a two-month billing period—still would be at the bottom. The proposed stiff increases would bring reserves to the goal at $13 million.
Beaudin said that the increases would bring the fund to the necessary level where the ongoing increases would be closer to inflation. There’s also the need to replace the 100-year-old pipes, a $3 million per year expense to cover the 100 miles of pipe in the city.
Listening to our guys’ responses, he made reasonable arguments. He said he’s willing to talk to any group to explain what’s going on.
A personal note: Tomorrow is a very special day for my family—my wife, Betty Gail, and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. I am so grateful for her love, support and partnership over five decades.