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George Rodericks

City Manager's Blog

The City Manager's Blog is an online educational tool to provide general information to the community in open communication style. Periodically, the City Manager will post articles of general interest covering topics such as the Town's budget, budget process, capital projects, upcoming meetings, community issues, public safety, and general Town operations.

Articles in the blog are not designed as press releases or Town publications, rather, they are written in more of a conversational style. The Blog does not have a comments feature but readers are free to respond to the Blog and its entries view email directly to the City Manager.

Mar 16

That's A Wrap! - March 15, 2017

Posted on March 16, 2017 at 8:26 AM by George Rodericks

Thats A Wrap Logo

Council Meeting Date: March 15, 2017
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/user/TownOfAtherton/featured

Details of each item can be found via the links to Staff Reports within the narrative. 

The City Council met for the March Regular Council meeting on Wednesday, March 15, beginning at 7 pm. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, the Council moved to Public Comments hearing an update on High-Speed Rail and Caltrain Electrification Project activities. 

Report.jpegFollowing Public Comment, the Council moved to the City Manager's Report. The City Manager's Report is prepared monthly as part of the City Council's Regular Agenda. In addition to current reports from the City Manager, it includes departmental updates on the various happenings around Town such as reports from Administration, Community Services, Planning, Police, and Public Works. 

After the City Manager's Report, the Council moved on to the Consent Agenda consisting of Items 8 through 14. Items on the Consent Agenda are considered routine in nature and are generally considered in one motion and adopted by a single vote of the Council. Included in this month's Consent Agenda were minutes, bills, approval of the Town's Street Sweeping Contract, approval of Plans and Specifications for the Middlefield/Oak Grove Intersection Improvements, Authorization for an RFP for Design of Middlefield Road Bike Lanes, Acceptance of the Annual Report on the General Plan, and 2nd Reading and Adoption of the Town's Drone Ordinance. The Council pulled the Drone Ordinance from the Consent Agenda, and after brief comments, the Council approved the balance of the items on the Consent Agenda. 

drone.jpegAfter the Consent Agenda, the Council took up the Drone Ordinance item - Item No. 14. The Council discussed the proposed ordinance and feedback from the community. Following discussion about complaints, registration of small drones, cameras, privacy, and potential future issues, the Council adopted the Drone Ordinance without further changes. The Ordinance goes into effect on April 14, 2017.  

After the Consent Agenda items, the Council moved on to the 4 Public Hearings scheduled for the evening's meeting.

The first Public Hearing related to a decrease in residential garbage cart rates by approximately 10% - Item No. 15.  After a brief staff report and public comment, the Council discussed the current refuse rates, pending franchise negotiations, continuation and future use of the refuse rate stabilization fund and future rate adjustments. Following discussion, the Council introduced the proposed ordinance for first reading and set second reading and adoption for April 19, 2017.

Moving on to Item No. 16, the Council discussed amendments to the Town's second dwelling unit ordinance to comply with State law. After a staff report and public comment, the Council discussed application of the changes on current and future development of accessory structures, side and rear yard setback issues, the application of fire safety requirements (sprinklers), neighbor impact, and rental. Following a minor tweak to language related to rental periods, the Council introduced the ordinance for first reading and set second reading and adoption for April 19, 2017. The Council directed that staff begin a conversation with the Planning Commission to address setbacks for accessory structures in general.

The next item on the Agenda was Item No. 17 - a Public Hearing for adoption of updates to the Fire Code. After a staff report and public comment, the Council had brief discussion before introducing for first reading and setting the second reading and adoption for April 19, 2017. 

The last Public Hearing on the Agenda was Item No. 18 - a Resolution approving the issuance of tax-exempt revenue obligations for Menlo School. Menlo School was required to appear before the local jurisdiction (Atherton) at a Public Hearing for adoption of the Resolution. The Resolution does not impose any obligation on the Town with respect to the debt issuance. Following discussion and public comment, the Council adopted the Resolution.

Next up was the Regular Agenda and review of a letter to the Fire District regarding the recent Citygate Report - Item No. 19. This item was moved to the end of the Regular Agenda to allow a member of the Fire District Board to attend as the Town's Liaison. Following a brief staff report and review of meeting video from the February 2017 Fire Board Meeting, the Council engaged in a Q&A with the attending Fire Board Liaison regarding the recent Citygate Report, its implications for Station No. 3, possible future discussion around the same issue, and the desire for continued input and involvement by the Town on the issue. Following discussion, the Council approved the proposed letter from the Mayor in its submitted form.

election.jpegItem No. 20 was review and approval of the Ballot Argument in favor of the measure submitted to qualified electors at the June 6 meeting and direction to staff on the handling of rebuttal arguments. After a brief staff report, the Council reviewed the draft argument and made changes to its text. Following discussion, the Council approved the revised ballot argument and authorized signature by the Council for submittal. The Council set a tentative Special Meeting for 9 am on March 27 to review a rebuttal argument, if necessary, and directed the Ad Hoc Committee to draft the rebuttal for the meeting. (June 6, 2017 Election Webpage)

The final agenda item was Item No. 21 relating to the Civic Center Project. Following a brief staff report on the proposed staging task order, the Council reviewed the overall phasing and staging plan for the project. Following discussion, the Council provided feedback on the staging and phasing plan and approved the staging task order. (Civic Center Project Webpage)

Following Council Reports and Final Comments, having cleared the entire Agenda, at approximately 10:30 pm, that, as they say - was a wrap!

The next meeting of the City Council is the Study Session of April 5, 2017. This meeting begins FY 2017/18 Budget Meetings starting with the a Budget Kick-Off reviewing the budget process and policy, projected fiscal year condition at year-end, major revenue and expenditure projections, and 5-Year forecasts. The meeting will also include a brief presentation on how Certificates of Participation work by a representative from Urban Futures. The next regular meeting of the Council is scheduled for April 19. Major items on this agenda thus far is Budget Meeting #2 - Special Funds, RFQ for Civic Center Contractors, and a presentation from Peninsula Clean Energy. 

George_2.jpgThanks for reading!

George Rodericks
City Manager
Town of Atherton


Mar 15

It's Budget Season! Time to get into numbers!

Posted on March 15, 2017 at 4:54 PM by George Rodericks


It's Budget Season! Time to get into the numbers!

Robert Barron III, Finance Director is hunkering down as the Fiscal Year 2017/18 Budget Season begins!

Everything starts right after the Mid-Year Report for the FY 2016/17 Budget which was sent to the Council at the February 15, 2017 Council Meeting. Following that update, we start having internal departmental meetings and meetings with the City Manager (me) to review each departmental budget.

Pie Chart Budget.jpg

OpenGov Fiscal Transparency Portal - Town Website #OpenGov

Led by the Finance Director, each department head starts working through a general fiscal overview and line-item budget details. Templates are sent to each department to complete for each line-item within their proposed budget. Written justification for any major expenditure change (up) is required.   This all occurs between February 15 and March 13.

Once the Finance Director has all the detail back, departments meet with the City Manager during the week of March 20 to go through item by item their operational and capital budget proposals. These meetings continue through April 5 and toward the end, include the Town’s Capital Improvement Project Budgets.

If you like numbers - these are the meetings to attend for the Town’s Budget Process:

  • Public Meeting No. 1 - On April 5 at the 4 pm Study Session, the City Council will host a Public Meeting (joint meeting with the Finance Committee) to go through a Budget Kick-Off. This is an overview of the Budget Process and Policy; a review of the FY 2016/17 Projected Fiscal Condition; an overview of the Town’s Major Revenue Sources and 5-Year Forecasts; an overview of the Town’s Major Expenditure Categories; and 5-Year Forecasts for the General Fund.
  • Public Meeting No. 2 - At the Regular Meeting on April 19 (7 pm), the City Council will review all Special Funds. This is a review of Special Revenue and Other Funds such as the Library Fund, Parcel Tax Fund, Measure A, Measure M and Tennis Fund.
  • Public Meeting No. 3 - Then, at the May 3 Study Session (4 pm), the Council will review the Capital Improvement Budget. This will include all major capital infrastructure projects with specificity.

Once the May 3 Study Session is complete, staff takes all of the feedback and pulls it together into the “draft” Final Budget.

  • Public Meeting No. 4 - The June 7 Study Session (4 pm) is a review of the “draft” Final Budget - all in. Final changes are made at this point. At this meeting, the Council will also review planned expenditure needs for the Parcel Tax.
  • Public Meeting No. 5 - The June 21 Regular Meeting (7 pm) is where the Council hosts its final Public Meeting on the Budget and adopts the Budget for the coming year. At this meeting, the Council will also set the Parcel Tax rate for FY 2017/18.

More information on the Town’s budget and budget process can be had by contacting Finance Director Robert Barron III at rbarron@ci.atherton.ca.us or the City Manager, George Rodericks at grodericks@ci.atherton.ca.us.

And remember....you can also visit the Town’s online Fiscal Transparency Portal to drill down into the numbers as they are updated!

Mar 14

City Council Meeting Tomorrow - 3/15 - @ 7 pm

Posted on March 14, 2017 at 4:05 PM by George Rodericks

There’s a City Council Meeting tomorrow night (March 15) @ 7 pm. The Agenda includes a number of key items for consideration.

There are no presentations scheduled, but we do expect some public comment related to current efforts surrounding High Speed Rail and Caltrain.

The Council should then move through the Consent Agenda fairly quickly as most of the items are routine in nature or have been seen/reviewed by the City Council at a prior meeting. These items include:

  • Minutes of Prior Meetings
  • Approval of Bills and Claims (paying the bills)
  • Approval of a 2-year contract for street sweeping services (continuation of current services)
  • Approval of the Middlefield Road/Oak Grove Intersection Improvement Plans & Specs - Authorization to Bid the Project
  • Authorization for an RFP for Design and the filing of a Grant Application for Bicycle Improvements on Middlefield Road
  • Acceptance of the 2016 Annual Report on the Town’s General Plan
  • 2nd Reading and Adoption of the Town’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Ordinance (Drones)

Staff anticipates that there may be a few brief comments or Q&A on the Consent Agenda, but the Consent Agenda may be approved in one motion of the Council.

After the Consent Agenda the Council will move to Public Hearings. Quite the line-up this evening.

  • Public Hearing #1 - Reducing Garbage Cart Rates by 10% - the Town has been tweaking cart rates over the last few years in an attempt to get to true cost recovery. Reducing the garbage cart rates is the last step in that process. The current franchise with Recology expires in 2020 and the Town expects rates to remain constant until that time. With the a new franchise agreement comes online, rates will be re-evaluated again.
  • Public Hearing #2 - Updates to the Town’s Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance - the State is making changes again that trickle down to local governments that must adopt changes to local law to remain consistent with State law. Those are the changes being made on this item. Essentially, the State is attempting to get to a place where a homeowner can create a second dwelling unit (with reasonable guidelines) with minimal interaction/permitting of local government. Because local governments are “creatures of the State” - our local ordinances must be consistent with State law.
  • Public Hearing #3 - Adoption of the new State/District Fire Code - as the State and Fire District adopt the local Fire Code, so must the Town. All existing Town exceptions and specific Town-applicable requirements remain in place - mainly related to fire sprinkler requirements. These revisions are necessary to be consistent with State law.
  • Public Hearing #4 - Approval of a Resolution approving the issuance of tax-exempt revenue bonds - for Menlo School (not the Town). This public hearing is required under State law in order for the School to issue tax-exempt revenue obligations. Approval of the Resolution in no way adds any liability to the Town.

After Public Hearings, the Council moves on to Regular Business. Only 3 items on their docket for the night.

The first up is review of a draft letter to the Fire District regarding their recent Citygate Report. The Town does not provide and is not responsible for the delivery of fire services; but, an inquiry arose while the Town was putting together its Local Municipal Services webpage as to what the Atherton-specific revenues and costs were for the services. This has sparked a lot of dialogue back and forth between the District and the Town. In December, the Board and Council held a joint meeting. At that meeting, there was a request by the Town to be involved in an upcoming update to the District’s Citygate Study - directly related to Fire Station #3 in Atherton. The District completed and presented the Report at their February 21 Board Meeting without opportunity for Town input. The letter is in response to that occurrence and again asks the District for more inclusion in the discussion.

Next is review of the draft ballot argument for the June 6, 2017 Special Election. The draft argument was written by a City Council Ad Hoc Subcommittee and must be reviewed and approved by the City Council.

The last item on the Agenda is the Civic Center Project Report. This Report is specifically related to Phasing and Staging. Now in the Construction Documents phase, it is anticipated that this project will be moving to bid in October/November 2017.

Feel free to contact me directly at grodericks@ci.atherton.ca.us or 650-752-0504.

George Rodericks City Manager Town of Atherton grodericks@ci.atherton.ca.us