Officials propose using surplus for parks, health

Developments east of U.S. Highway 101 have fueled next year’s small budget increase that city officials are recommending for park maintenance and health benefits.

City officials, who admitted that the city of South San Francisco has received numerous calls about building and park maintenance, said the projected increase in city revenue should allow them to commit some part-time workers to cleaning up park facilities.

The $62.3 million proposed budget is a 2 percent increase over last year’s $61.1 million, and also proposes a $1 million “down payment” by the city to help pay for city workers’ health benefits upon retirement, Finance Director Jim Steele said.

Fees from building and fire permits, as well as property and sales taxes, are the main contributors to a budget that boasts a $500,000 surplus and $6.9 million in reserves, according to a staff report for the council.

Numerous developments in Oyster Point and in the area east of U.S. 101 as well as increased permit fees have bolstered city revenues. Additional businesses coming into South San Francisco are also helping boost sales and property taxes as properties change hands and are reassessed on their value.

Building and fire fees, primarily related to office and research and development space for the biotechnology industry, have increased from $2.5 million in 2004-05 to a projected $4.275 million during 2007-08, Steele said.

Steele said the proposed budget was conservative, given that building fees are not a steady revenue generator for the city and cannot be counted on as the city moves forward in the coming years.

“You can see east of 101, we have a lot of stuff going on,” Steele said.

The proposed budget recommends that the city take advantage of the increase by hiring part-time help for park maintenance at a cost of $150,000. The city has received calls about dirty park buildings, and by keeping the positions part-time the council can decide in the future — if they have the money — to make the positions permanent, Steele said.

New businesses also contributed to next year’s budget proposal by increasing sales tax revenues to the city by 5.4 percent to $13.37 million.

dsmith@examiner.com

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