Millbrae has worked successfully to maintain a balanced, albeit lean, budget in recent years — a accomplishment that Mayor Gina Papan said was achieved through community support.
“In a city, there is strength in numbers as long as the individuals who make up those numbers are engaged. I’ve always been amazed at Millbrae. … This community cares. This community gets stuff done,” she said during the annual State of the City held at the Chetcuti Community Room Wednesday evening.
This year, the city worked with $18.6 million in revenues in general funding. After costs, it was able to put money aside. An achievement that took many people, Papan said. For example, Millbrae employees helped shoulder the burden by accepting a 4.3 percent to 5 percent reduction in their salary. In addition, shared services have been important to creating new opportunities to cut back costs without sacrificing service — those partnerships will continue to be important in the years ahead, Papan said.
“If we stand up and commit to funding our needs, we will be even greater than we’ve ever been,” she said.In March, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office took over offering Millbrae police services. The cost-savings move resulted in a 17 percent drop in crime and a 37-second decrease in response time, Papan said. This has been in addition to reducing costs while improving training, she said.
Millbrae is one of four Peninsula cities — including Burlingame, Hillsborough and San Bruno — which has been researching sharing fire services. Specifically, Millbrae and Burlingame are considering sharing a station. The temporary station has been postponed until later this year. Even with those savings, Papan made a plea to the public to again support the fire safety tax, which will sunset next year. It brings in $1.2 million in revenue annually and, if approved, it will be the third time voters back the safety tax.
City leaders did put aside more than $7 million in one-time capital service funds this year but there is still an unfunded need to update the waste pump station — a liability that often creates costly problems. Papan encouraged the public to support updates to reduce costs down the road.Voters approved a library bond in 2001 that the city recently refinanced to reduce the annual payment for taxpayers. Employees have found unique ways to solve problems at a lower cost. For instance, when a dog got stuck in an underground pipe, employees used a robot camera to convince the dog to back out rather than a costly cut into the infrastructure.
Supporting economic development in Millbrae has been a focus for the City Council for a number of years.
After just over a year of work, the newly revamped Safeway is slated to open later this month. For the city, it will mean a larger store and the creation of 50 additional jobs as well as additional services.
Also, Papan called for residents to join her fight in ensuring any development around the Millbrae Bay Area Rapid Transit station includes something that will bring money into the city for years to come. In February, BART officials entered into exclusive development negotiations to developer Republic Urban Properties. At the time, Republic’s proposal included around 140,000 square feet of office space, 17,000 square feet of retail and 350 residential units, according to BART staff. What it doesn’t include is a hotel — the one detail for which Millbrae officials have continued to push.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version reported that Millbrae was seeking further shared fire services with neighboring cities.
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