With a healthy general fund reserve, and property tax revenues up 5 percent over the past 12 months and projected to rise by 3.5 percent over the next year, the town is embarking on a five-year program to repair and rehabilitate its infrastructure.
A $12 million capital improvement program is described in the town's budget for the 12-month period that begins July 1. A draft of the budget included proposed spending of $12.2 million, anticipated revenues of $10.29 million and a projected $1.9 million deficit. The Town Council discussed the draft on June 9, and is scheduled to discuss it further on June 23 and vote on it.
Funding for a five-year capital program would draw from a mix of grants and local and county tax revenues, including about $5 million over five years from the town's general fund reserve, currently at $5.7 million, Town Manager Kevin Bryant said in his budget message. (The town anticipates the general fund reserve will amount to $3.2 million by 2020.)
The higher priority projects would include the repair and/or rehabilitation of four bridges ($4 million) and the storm drain system ($1.5 million), and, as part of the Safe Routes to School program, the rebuilding of a path along the south side of Woodside Road between Woodside Elementary School and Roberts Market ($942,000).
The capital program also includes the ongoing renovation of the town library ($3 million), a new sewage pump station along Mountain Home Road ($665,000), bicycle and pedestrian path maintenance ($101,500), equestrian trail maintenance ($90,000), and normal road rehabilitation ($1.8 million).
The capital program allocations are a "living document," Mr. Bryant said, in that expected funding sources may change over time. Grant funding, for example, can be hit or miss. In 2014, the town applied for but did not win an $850,000 grant from the California Transportation Department to rebuild the Woodside Road path.
Sources for capital program funding, excluding the library renovation, include 29 percent from federal grants, 16 percent from the general fund, and 21 percent from Measure A, the half-cent sales tax to pay for transportation projects in San Mateo County.
The budget for the Woodside Road path includes $542,000 from Measure A, with the other $400,000 from the general fund.
The $3 million allocated to renovate the library (about 24 percent of the capital program) comes from dedicated property tax revenues that accumulate at a rate of about $500,000 a year and can be used only for library purposes.
Federal funding for bridge repair is complicated for Woodside because the grants typically include a requirement that bridges meet federal width standards of 40 feet. That would double the widths of the bridges over Union Creek (on Kings Mountain Road), Bear Gulch Creek (on Mountain Home Road), Alimbique Creek (on Portola Road) and Dennis Martin Creek (on Old La Honda Road).
Council members have rejected 40-foot-wide bridges, saying that the cost to the town's rural character would be too high.
Of the $4 million earmarked for bridge repair, 88 percent ($3.5 million) would come from federal grants. If that funding does not come through, the town may try municipal bonds or a parcel tax, Mr. Bryant said.
The draft budget proposes adding one new employee -- an assistant planner -- bringing the total staff in Town Hall to about 20. An assistant planner is needed, Mr. Bryant said, to cope with the pace of projects being submitted, but also to assist people who come to the counter with questions about planning regulations.
The Planning Department budget allocates $200,000 for contractors. This includes $50,000 to align the town's municipal code with the 2012 general plan, particularly with respect to residential regulations on basements, grading, total floor area, number of allowable accessory structures and maximum house size.
The Public Works Department budget sets out about $802,000 for contract employees to cover tasks ranging from code enforcement and building inspection to street sweeping and sewer maintenance. This budget includes $100,000 for an engineer to oversee the five-year capital improvements program. "Having a person dedicated to keeping capital improvements moving on schedule and on budget is critical to the success of the program," Mr. Bryant said in his budget message.
The contract with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office for police services, including a motorcycle patrol, will cost the town about $1.5 million for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
To cope with the danger of wildfire, the town allocates $50,000 for removal of trees likely to fall on power lines, and $50,000 in matching funds for residents who trim vegetation around homes and other structures to prevent the spread of fire.