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City Manager's Weekly Update May 29, 2020
Fiscal Year 2021 budget presented to the City Council
Speaking of day to day city business, on Tuesday May 26th, we are approached a major milestone – the presentation of the proposed 2021 annual budget. Staff presented the preliminary budget to the City Council for consideration and received feedback from the Council and the public. We will finalize the budget and present it to Council on June 9th, so it can be adopted in time for the start of the new fiscal year, July 1.
Here is a quick snapshot: Belmont faces worse budget crisis since the Great Recession. The staff report and a link to the preliminary budget is available on the city's website here. It took some work, but we have been able to create a balanced budget with a mix of hard controls, cuts, and revenue augmentation scenarios. In December/January, our revenues were tracking favorably in accordance with our projections, which provided a bit of a cushion against the drastic decline of revenues over the past three months.
Because the City Council set aside about $14 million in this year’s budget for future economic uncertainty, we have a cushion available to handle the immediate economic impacts of COVID-19. We don’t want to paint a picture that is too rosy. All cities have seen huge decreases in sales tax and hotel tax, two major sources of revenue that support basic city services, along with our recreation and facilities use programs.. The other major source is property taxes, which tends to be more stable. The city has looked at everything in coming up with its balancing strategies, from use of reserves, cuts, and revenue augmentation scenarios.
Given the uncertainty still ahead, we are keeping very tight controls on spending and proceeding with extreme caution.
City of Belmont 2020 Strategic Plan
On Tuesday May 26, 2020, the City Council adopted the City's 2020 Strategic Plan . Although the current global health crisis casts a shadow on our daily activities, the City Council and City staff were engaged in this robust planning discussion to help guide and develop a Strategic Plan to lead us into the next 3 years and beyond.
However, given the current events, storm clouds are present which means we need to continue our vigilance, be intentional and thoughtful about how we continue to provide our quality services which the community is accustomed to, while allocating resources to align with our vision and goals to continue with the effective use of our tax dollars.
A unified vision for the future uses the City’s vision and the following City Council focus areas as its roadmap for action over the next 3-5 years, as highlighted below.
- Infrastructure & Mobility
- Economic Development & Housing
- Fiscal & Organizational Sustainability
- Public Safety
- Quality of Life
We will have to face the current economic climate head on, keeping an eye on these focus areas to guide our economic and societal recovery, while looking for new opportunities and maintaining our strong community, as we improve our quality of life, civic pride and businesses. It is inevitable that every organization is going to face a significant crisis and a flurry of minor obstacles during good or difficult times, which is why having a clear vision and strategy is crucial.
Affirming Belmont’s Commitment to Safeguard the Civil Rights, Safety and Dignity of all Community Members
On May 26, 2020, the City Council affirmed Belmont's commitment to values of equity, fairness, and justice, and denouncing stigmatization, racism, and xenophobia in responding to COVID-19.
Stay at home order still in effect
As the State and County Health Officials ease certain restrictions in opening our society, it may sound strange to say that the stay at home order is still in effect. Here’s the deal with that: health officials still want people to stay home except when visiting a reopened shop or service or going out for essentials. That means it is still too early to:
- Have people over for a barbecue
- Let kids visit their friends
- Celebrate birthday parties in person
- Have gatherings with family members who don’t live together
- Meet up with friends for a hike, or large social gatherings
These things will come, but we’re not there yet. It is more important than ever to take on personal responsibility in protecting yourself, your loved ones and the general public by practicing the basics. Please continue to keep your distance, use face covering, wash your hands and stay home if your sick or showing symptoms. And, if you have teens, please help us by reminding them of these rules. This has been an increasing challenge – most teens are naturally social and, according to what we know now, not at a high risk from COVID-19. However, they can be very effective spreaders! Perhaps remind them that their actions can help protect grandparents and other older loved ones.
May 29th Shelter in Place Order Revisions
At 12:30pm today, County Health Officer Scott Morrow issued an updated Shelter in Place Order No. c19-5e (revised) that directs all individuals in the county to continue sheltering at their place of residence except for: identified needs and activities, in compliance with specified requirements; continuing to exempt homeless individuals from the order but urging government agencies to provide them shelter; requiring all businesses and recreation facilities that are allowed to operate to implement social distancing, face covering, and cleaning protocols; and directing all businesses, facility operators, and governmental agencies to continue the temporary closure of all other operations not allowed under this order.
Additionally, the revised shelter in place order will go into effect on June 1, 2020. Here are some new changes in the order:
- Retail stores with customers inside and places of worship to hold services with restrictions and safety measures in place.
- Beaches now may now operate normally. Beachgoers MUST adhere to social distancing and face covering guidelines.
- For childcare establishments, summer camps, and other educational or recreational institutions or programs providing care or supervision for children, the stable group time requirement has been decreased from four weeks to three consecutive weeks
To meet state guidelines, the County of San Mateo needs to administer about 1,200 tests per day, through hospitals, private testing companies, and the free program available through Verily. Please check with your company and/or primary provider. We have now reached the point in the County when anyone who wants a COVID-19 test can get one. Testing options include calling your doctor or medical provider to schedule an appointment, signing up on the state website, or refer to County's project baseline.
On Monday, May 18, the number of COVID-19 testing sites operated by Verily expanded. Testing is free and available without restriction to anyone, though an appointment is required in advance. To make an appointment, residents can visit Project Baseline’s website (use this hyperlink: https://bit.ly/2xk73OL). After being tested, residents will receive results and other information by email. San Mateo County Health will reach out to residents who test positive.
TESTING LOCATIONS & SCHEDULE
Mondays & Tuesdays – San Mateo
San Mateo County Event Center
1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Wednesdays & Thursdays – Daly City
Jefferson Union High School District Office
699 Serramonte Boulevard, Daly City
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Fridays and Saturdays – East Palo Alto
550 Bell Street, East Palo Alto
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Testing locations closed.
People who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 are still encouraged to contact their health care provider first.
Library Curb side service to Begin
Library Managers are working diligently to get ready to implement this new service, which is slated to begin Saturday, June 6. Contactless curbside services would then be offered on a weekly basis Tuesday 3-7, Thursday 10-2 and Saturday 10-2. Check the Belmont Library webpage for updated information.
Belmont Parks & Recreation Department
Belmont Sports Complex
The Belmont Sports Complex North Field improvement project is underway. Field grading and soil stabilization have been completed. New drainage is being installed now. The project is expected to be completed in October 2020. We’re eager to show above ground improvements soon, but for now, here’s a reminder of what we’re working towards:
Park Staff and Fire Crews at Water Dog Open Space – What a Difference!
Parks maintenance staff worked with Calfire Fire Safe crews in Water Dog Open Space to reduce fire fuel and improve defensible space areas behind homes in the Belmont Heights neighborhood.
Schedule and weather permitting, the Fire Safe crews will be onsite again June 9-11, and June 16-18 and will continue to focus on open space areas adjacent to Hallmark Drive. The work entails establishing defensible space and s tree trimming, ladder fuel and understory brush removal. Invasive species and poison oak will also be eradicated. Where possible, the cut vegetation will be removed altogether from the project area.
SFPUC plans to have the annual disc and mowing at the Crystal Springs Cross Country Course completed by July 4th.
Volunteer opportunity - #beautifulbelmont
Get out of the house and help your local parks! Grab a bucket and help us out by clearing weeds on our parks, trails, and open spaces. Be sure to share before-and-after photos of your work. *Don't forget to maintain social distancing and recommended safety measures when out and about. More volunteer options www.belmont.gov/volunteer
Activity Kit to Pass the Time
Seniors on our mailing list received another Activity Kit in the mail this week. If you know someone who would enjoy a packet of brain teasers, word puzzles, and trivia games, please call the Twin Pines Senior Center at 650-595-7445.
Who counts in on the #2020Census? #EveryoneCounts! except cats, grumpy or not 😉 Make sure to count all people living in your household. My2020census
2020 Concerts in the Park Series Cancelled
The Belmont Park Boosters, the organization that produces the Summer Concert Series in Twin Pines Park in Belmont each year, has announced the cancellation of the 2020 Concert Series, which would have been its 44th year.
“Obviously we’re very disappointed that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced this decision, but given the current circumstances, it’s what we need to do,” said Judy King, who has been the President of the Park Boosters for many years. Please visit the website at www.belmontparkboosters.org for updated information.
Flushing Guidance For Building Water Systems Following Extended Shelter-in-place Shutdown
MPWD ensures top water quality for all rate payers with constant testing and proper treatment. The water we deliver is disinfected. However, as the Coronavirus shelter-in-place restriction incrementally get relaxed and businesses reopen, there are actions that managers of buildings, facilities, and campuses should take to ensure water is safe and tastes good.
During the health crisis shutdown, many businesses closed or limited operations. That resulted in water becoming stagnant in pipes and plumbing systems. Read the Flushing Guidance For Building Water Systems Following Extended Shelter-in-place Shutdown