As other cities struggle, Foster City closes in on becoming debt-free

As most cities on the Peninsula are considering layoffs and tax increases to keep from sinking into the red, Foster City’s is afloat with green.

The city of about 30,000 will be completely debt-free by 2010, according to a budget report that will be presented to the City Council today.

Even rosier, the city has about $17 million in reserves — more than 50 percent of its general fund budget, Assistant City Manager Kristi Chappelle said. On top of that, the city is spending millions on a new teen center and adding expensive artificial turf to many of its athletic fields, she said.

In comparison, the similar-sized city of Burlingame, with less than $10 million in reserves, is contending with more than $200 million in necessary infrastructure improvements after being forced to neglect them in recent belt-tightening years, City Manager Jim Nantell said.

Farther south on the Peninsula, San Carlos officials have warned their City Council it could face bankruptcy within five years unless taxes are raised or city services are reduced, City Manager Brian Moura said.

Chappelle admitted Foster City has it easier than many other cities in the county because it’s much younger — built mostly in the ’60s and ’70s — so it doesn’t have to cope with hole-ridden sewage and water lines and aging parks and buildings that other cities do.

And unlike many other San Mateo cities, Foster City doesn’t have a train line or major commercial corridors like El Camino Real, which can cause expensive safety and infrastructure problems, Mayor Pam Frisella said.

Chappelle and Frisella credit Rick Wykoff, who spent 17 years as city manager before joining the City Council in 2001, for the success.

“He’s the one who keeps us from spending too much.” Frisella said. He always reminds us that yes, we might have the money, but we may not need to spend it.”

kworth@examiner.com

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police officers speak with people while responding to a call outside a market on Leavenworth Street in the Tenderloin on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SFPD makes the case for more officers, citing Walgreens video

Most of us have seen the video. It shows a man filling… Continue reading

A 14-Mission Muni bus heads down Mission Street near Yerba Buena Gardens. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Pandemic experiments morph into long-term solutions for SF transit agency

The streets of San Francisco became real-time laboratories for The City’s public… Continue reading

NO CONNECTION TO SERVER:
Unable to connect to GPS server ‘blackpress.newsengin.com’
Debate reignites over San Francisco’s first public bank

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, momentum was building for San Francisco to… Continue reading

Apprenticeship instructor Mike Miller, center, demonstrates how to set up a theodolite, a hyper-sensitive angle measuring device, for apprentices Daniel Rivas, left, Ivan Aguilar, right, and Quetzalcoatl Orta, far right, at the Ironworkers Local Union 377 training center in Benicia on June 10, 2021. (Courtesy Anne Wernikoff/CalMatters)
California’s affordable housing crisis: Are labor union requirements in the way?

By Manuela Tobias CalMatters California lawmakers introduced several bills this year that… Continue reading

Most Read