Portola Valley: Road, trail improvements draw focus in new budget


Town Hall in Portola Valley is projecting a deficit in the budget for the 12-month period that begins July 1, but there were operating surpluses in previous years, the town manager says, and reserves are healthy in the town's general fund.

The money will be spent on road and trail improvements and capital equipment in a fiscal year that anticipates operating revenues of $4.7 million and expenses of $4.5 million.

That works out to an operating surplus of about $209,500, but with plans to spend about $645,000 on capital improvements, the town will run a deficit of about $547,200, Town Manager Nick Pegueros said.

A year from now, the general fund reserve should be about $1.36 million, he said.

The Town Council adopted the budget on a 4-0 vote on June 24; Councilman Craig Hughes was absent for the vote.

The Public Works Department budget includes $437,760 for maintaining street and trails. A priority this year will be improving the safety of the elevated trail along Alpine Road across from Roberts Market, Mr. Pegueros said.

A $250,000 grant from San Mateo County, with matching money from the town, is paying for a 400-foot wood-and-steel retaining wall to be built along Alpine Road near the intersection with Arastradero Road. The town's Bicycle, Pedestrian & Traffic Safety Committee applied for and won the grant to widen the road shoulder and improve bicycle safety.

The project is not expected to use the entire grant, so what is left over will go toward widening a shoulder at another pinch point on Portola Road opposite Town Center, but probably not during the current fiscal year.

Portola Valley has just under 70 miles of roads and will spend about $230,000 analyzing and resurfacing the roads due for upkeep this year. Resurfacing with an asphalt slurry can double a road's life, Mr. Pegueros told the council. A slurry seal addresses asphalt aging, water infiltration and degraded pavement, according to the state Department of Transportation.

New employees

While the budget calls for five new permanent full-time employees, if they're all hired and fill current vacancies, the total number of staff in Town Hall will be 14, one person more than are there now. The positions are administrative services manager, associate/senior planner, building official and two maintenance workers.

The council recently authorized payment of $907,700 to the state retirement system, which was 95 percent of the town's unfunded current employee pension liability. The step is expected to save the town about $1 million over the next 30 years, Mr. Pegueros said.

As has been the case in budgets over the past four years, the town anticipates spending around $540,000 on consultants. The total includes legal services from the town attorney ($125,000), transcription services to prepare minutes of Town Council and Planning Commission meetings ($20,000), construction plan checking ($100,000), engineering services to assist the town engineer ($25,000), and website administration ($26,000).

Consultants will also be used to determine the appropriate fees for Town Hall services ($35,000) and assist on the update to the Town Center master plan ($65,000). To be considered in that update are the implications of proposals to enlarge the skateboard ramp to a half-pipe, expand the footprint of the public library, establish a dog park, and free the rest of Sausal Creek from its underground pipe, Mr. Pegueros said.

The town will spend $35,000 on a plug-in hybrid vehicle to be used by the planning department and for code enforcement operations.

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1 person likes this
Posted by Terry
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 1, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Please do not enlarge the skateboard ramp to a half pipe, unless it is moved off of the existing basketball court. It is already unfortunate that the full-court has been reduced to half-court, due to a minority of outspoken parents.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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