With improved financial footing fueled by anticipated increased tax revenue over the coming years, South San Francisco officials recently examined the priority capital improvements to be soon addressed.
Traffic calming and control, infrastructure repairs along Oyster Point, pedestrian safety measures, sewer fixes and more were among the $101.2 million worth of work discussed during a study session Wednesday, May 29.
The range of projects which could be approved when officials decide a budget later this month are possible through the sturdy tax income streams projected for the upcoming fiscal year, according to Financial Services Manager Justin Lovell.
“A lot of this growth is fueled as South San Francisco’s economy continues to grow,” said Lovell, referring to the city’s three main sources of tax income which are projected to increase over the coming fiscal year.
In all, officials expect to collect $112.6 million in tax revenue, amounting to about $1.3 million more than the $111.3 million in projected spending for the proposed 2019-20 budget. Income is expected to outpace spending by about $2 million over the same period of time, feeding a hearty reserve fund worth about $46 million and building the city’s capacity to establish a sweeping capital improvement program.
Anticipated to be most expensive among the proposed projects is $33.9 million dedicated for the sanitary and sewer system, followed by $24.4 million for public facilities, $21.7 million for streets, $10.2 million for traffic, $9 million for storm drains and $1.7 million for parks. Of the $101 million in projects identified, $53 million should be set aside for new initiatives and the rest are for ongoing efforts, according to a city report.
Removing fuel tanks at Oyster Point and improving flood protections for the area, along with erosion control efforts and storm drain fixes in specific neighborhoods plus pedestrian crossing fixes are among the new projects identified.
Councilman Mark Nagales said he believed most of the proposed new projects are suitable initiatives to adopt.
“I think these projects are all worthy,” he said, according to video of the meeting.
He balanced that perspective though by noting some of the improvements are narrowly defined to specific neighborhoods, raising questions over the strategy for identifying which areas of the city are prioritized for work. Officials explained available grant funding can factor into project timelines, but suggested if certain neighborhoods wish to address needs, a town hall meeting can be scheduled to identify concerns.
More broadly, councilmembers seemed to support the variety of initiatives proposed by officials for the upcoming year, despite detailed questions raised by Mayor Karyl Matsumoto.
Beyond the capital improvement program, officials examined the larger spending plan for the upcoming year and discussed requests for funding from a variety of departments. No final decision was made, as all financial decisions will come with forthcoming approval of the budget.
When discussing program-specific spending next year, Matsumoto raised the proposal of bringing license plate readers to South San Francisco as part of an effort to crack down on crime.
The proposal seemed to fall flat though, as Councilman Mark Addiego questioned the efficacy of the technology, suggesting many of the criminals targeted by the readers are often aware of their presence and will use fake plates to obscure their identify.
City Manager Mike Futrell also noted there are security concerns which come with mounting the cameras, which must be considered. And while a city law enforcement official identified the shortcomings of the cameras too, Futrell said more consideration could be possible if preferred by councilmembers.
“That is something we are willing to explore, but at the end of the day it would be a council decision,” he said.
Also as part of the discussion about expanding services, officials agreed to allocate more money to hire an assistant city clerk, which will allow City Hall to start offering passport and notary service support to residents.
Discussions around the budget will return later once the final document comes up for approval.
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