MODESTO -- The Modesto City Council's Finance Committee meets today at 5 p.m. in the basement chamber of Tenth Street Place,1010 10th St., to consider the following:
Accepting an informational report from the California Public Employees' Retirement System on the cost of Modesto leaving the state retirement system. The report pegs the cost at $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion. The city asked CalPERS for the report about a year ago after the city's employee groups asked for it and city voters had passed a nonbinding ballot measure asking whether the city should replace its pension plan with a 401(k)-style plan, which is the norm in the private sector and does not guarantee retirees a fixed amount in retirement.
Adopting the city's annual review of waste-water rates and approving staff's recommendation for a new five-year rate plan effective the 2014-15 fiscal year, which slows the rate of increase from 22 percent to 19 percent over those five years. Under the new plan, a single-family household would pay $30.11 a month in 2014 and see that rise to $34.22 by 2018. That's about 50 cents less a month than under the current plan.
A single-family household now pays $26.82 a month for sewer services. City officials say industrial and commercial users face similar percentage increases.
Rich Ulm, the city's director of utility planning and projects, said Modesto's single-family household sewer rates rank in the bottom third compared with neighboring cities. For instance, Ulm said Tracy residents pay $34.10 a month, Manteca residents $43.40, Turlock residents $42.95 and Riverbank residents $20.15.
Ulm said the rate increases are paying for such projects as a state-mandated $120 million project at the city's Jennings Road treatment plant, which will upgrade the treatment of waste water. Construction started in June and should be completed by 2016. The City Council is expected to adopt the five-year rate plan in April.
Review a midyear report of the 2012-13 budget for the roughly $100 million general fund, golf fund and Modesto Centre Plaza fund. The report states that while revenue from property taxes remains flat, the city is seeing a rebound in sales tax revenue. The city expects to receive an additional $1 million in sales tax revenue this fiscal year with the modest growth to continue over five years.
Still, the general fund was at roughly $120 million a few years ago before revenues declined because of the recession. The news for the city's three golf courses Municipal, Dryden and Creekside as well as Centre Plaza remains bleak. Golf revenues for the current fiscal year through December are down 9.7 percent compared with the same period in the previous fiscal year. The number of rounds played at the three courses is down 11.2 percent.
The city has budgeted a $268,174 subsidy from the general fund for the three golf courses. The general fund subsidy has been $947,992 over the previous five fiscal years. The city's fiscal year is July 1 through June 30. Centre Plaza, which is the city's downtown convention center, has a general fund subsidy of $430,000 during this fiscal year and has had an average annual subsidy of $573,000 over the previous five fiscal years. Convention center revenues continue to decline.
City staff is working on ways to reduce the general fund subsidies for the golf courses and convention center for the 2013-14 budget.