Woodside: State funding loss imperils daytime squad car
• Budget deficit to mean smaller staff at Town Hall.
Nighttime law enforcement in Woodside consists of two deputy sheriffs in two squad cars. During the day, there is at least one full-time deputy in a squad car, one part-time deputy on a motorcycle, and one more in a squad car and shared with Portola Valley — and funded in part by the state.
That state funding, $100,000 for each town, is in jeopardy. If it goes away, the towns may resort to replacing a shared deputy in a squad car with a more affordable alternative: a shared deputy on a motorcycle. Funding for this deputy was one of several items discussed on June 14 as the Town Council reviewed the proposed budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year that starts July 1.
With projected general fund revenues of $5.46 million and expenses of $5.82 million, the town will have to address the $334,000 deficit with several cost reductions, which Town Manager Susan George outlined in a detailed and comprehensive cover letter introducing the budget. If the council approves these steps, the budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year is expected to have a surplus of $113,000, Ms. George said.
The town would save $296,000 in the 2011-12 fiscal year by not filling the positions of four retiring staff members: the building official, a project manager, the geologist and an accountant. By keeping the first two of these positions vacant and having their duties covered by other staff members, and by eliminating the other two positions, the town would save another $416,500 in 2012-13 and $305,000 annually after that, Ms. George said.
"We will continue to look for ways to reduce costs without impacting service," Ms. George wrote. "I expect to be involved in related discussions with the Town Council for the balance of my tenure as town manager as we monitor and evaluate the town's fiscal condition."
Ms. George has said she is planning to retire in January 2012; a recruiting effort is under way to find her successor.
Go to tinyurl.com/WS-budget2011-12 to view the budget cover letter and the budget itself.
The council is set to approve the budget at its Tuesday, June 28, meeting in Independence Hall at Woodside and Whiskey Hill roads.
Library remodel delay
Staff recommended delaying the library remodel by at least a year. The project estimate, set at $2 million in October 2010, is now $2.4 million, Ms. George wrote in her letter.
The remodeling plan includes better patio access, a self-help holding area, a new information desk, a living room-like area, and glassed-in rooms for teens and quiet study.
The town would be responsible for $1.8 million drawn from its $2 million reserve set aside for library maintenance. The county library administration, which oversees such reserves for libraries throughout the county, has offered to bridge the gap by diverting Woodside's 2011-12 annual replenishment.
But after expenses, that scenario would leave Woodside's reserve at $137,000, Ms. George noted, with no replenishment until the 2012-13 fiscal year.
"I feel that this is too close a margin, given current economic circumstances," she wrote. "I ... would rather have enough money already in the bank to support it before we award a construction contract."
"The library is perfectly acceptable as it stands today," Ms. George added in remarks to the council.
Also in the budget: an upgrade to the in-road lights at the crosswalks for the elementary school, and a plan to repair or replace bridges on Portola, King's Mountain and Mountain Home roads.