City Council Approves measure A funds to widen Hwy. 101

MARCI WORMSER, NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
April 14, 2010 7:02 AM

City Council approves Measure A funds to widen Hwy. 101 : Capital improvement ‘wish list’ report also reviewed The seven-member Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a resolution to adopt the Measure A five-year local program of projects for fiscal years 2011-15.

A key component of the measure is a plan to relieve traffic congestion and improve safety on Highway 101 by providing $140 million in matching funds to widen the highway south of Santa Barbara from four to six lanes, according to a report by Public Works Director Christine Andersen.

The Measure A Investment Plan will provide $455 million, she said, for both the North County and South Coast for high-priority transportation projects and programs to address current and future transportation needs. The local revenues will be supplemented by an estimated $522 million in federal and state gas taxes and other sources.

In November 2008, 79 percent of county voters approved the measure to provide more than $1 billion in local sales tax revenues for transportation projects in the county over the next 30 years. The measure is funded through a continuation of the local one-half percent sales tax that was initiated by Measure D, which expired on March 31, 2010.

“SBCAG (Santa Barbara County Association of Governments) has estimated that the city will receive approximately $3 million in Measure A revenues for fiscal year 2011,” according to the report. “Under Measure A, local agencies choose how to spend their share of funds after seeking public input and annually adopting a five-year program of projects.”

“It is a Measure A ordinance requirement for local agencies to spend a minimum percentage of their local street and transportation improvement funds on eligible alternative transportation projects,” the report continues. “The minimum percentage for the city is 10 percent. This requirement must be met by the fifth year of the program and every fifth year thereafter.”

For fiscal year 2011, Measure A will help fund capital improvement projects totaling $388,000; $1.5 million in maintenance operations; and $1.2 million in alternative transportation projects, which include $229,000 for “Easy Lift” transportation, $698,000 for maintenance of the city’s electric shuttle, $50,000 for sidewalk access ramps and $250,000 for sidewalk management.

Councilman Das Williams asked city staff to consider in the future whether spending $698,000 to maintain the city’s electric shuttle is money well spent.

According to Ms. Andersen, more than a half million people ride the shuttle each year.
Also on Tuesday, the council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance that will cancel salary increases for city managers and suspend salary increases for supervisors.

Subsequently, a 1.5 percent cost-of-living salary increase for managers who are not represented by a bargaining unit and for professional attorneys was cancelled, along with a 3 percent cost-of-living salary increase for sworn city fire department managers and sworn police department managers who are not represented by a bargaining unit. All the salary increases were slated to take effect last week.

The ordinance was initiated to help the budget-strapped city save funds for the remainder of the 2009-10 fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2010.

On Tuesday, the council tabled a vote for two weeks on whether to adopt the city’s 2010 Legislative Platform, which guides the city’s support or opposition to state and federal legislation, after Councilman Frank Hotchkiss asked for some more time to review the Legislative Platform materials. The platform was submitted by the office of City Administrator James Armstrong.

Mr. Hotchkiss, who began his term on the council in January, asked for another 30 days to review the material. Mr. Williams took him to task for this request, telling him that his proposed extension was too long.

“In all my seven years on the council, I’ve never heard of anything like this,” Mr. Williams said, adding that tabling the item for one or two weeks at the most would be more appropriate.

Mr. Armstrong advised the council that he and his staff will “sit down” with Mr. Hotchkiss and review the materials with him to bring him up to speed.

Also on Tuesday, Ms. Andersen presented council members with a more than 300-page report detailing the city’s six-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for fiscal years 2011-16 for them to review. Some of the proposed projects are currently unfunded, and a number of them will never come to fruition.

The capital projects listed in the oversize CIP document, along with the currently funded capital program, will assist the council in determining what capital projects to approve as part of its fiscal year 2011 recommended budget in June 2010.

“The value of capital improvement projects in the enterprise and special funds totals more than $532 million, and more than $75 million of that total will originate from non-city sources, predominantly Federal Aviation Administration and Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Funds,” according to a report to city staff from Ms. Andersen.

The value of the capital improvement projects during 2011-12, Ms. Andersen told the council Tuesday, is $217 million. Out of that amount, $56 million is unfunded, but the city may be able to get grants to make up the shortfall, she said.

As part of the multi-year improvement program, the Administrative Services Department is proposing various enhancements to city software systems, totaling about $2 million. All the projects are proposed to be funded from the general fund and intra-city services enterprise funds.

The Airport Department is proposing more than $30 million in projects over the six-year planning period, including upgrading and repairing the airport sewer system. About $19 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants will contribute toward funding the airfield projects, and the remainder will come from airport enterprise funds.

The Fire Department program includes a proposal for $130,000 to conduct a feasibility study to explore long-term needs of the department and the feasibility of building a new combined forest service/city fire facility at Station Seven, facility upgrades for the fire training tower totaling $120,000 and expanding the fire training facility classroom for about $165,000. The projects are currently unfunded.

The Library Department is proposing about $2.6 million in capital improvements, including a reorganization of Central Library operations totaling $640,000, to be funded through the Fenton Davison Trust, and the Central Library Plaza Renovation for $250,000, which will be funded via RDA monies.

The Parks and Recreation Department is proposing 49 projects totaling more than $94 million. The projects include renovation of the Cabrillo Bathhouse, for $6 million; a proposal to build a new aquatics facility, for $18.5 million; and a new project to renovate the National Guard Armory at about $11.5 million. Critical rehabilitation projects include the “Thousand Steps” beach access stairs, the Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden, Kid’s World in Alameda Park, the Mesa Lane Steps and Shoreline Park. All the projects are unfunded.
The Police Department is proposing a new police headquarters building, estimated to cost $55 million. The building is unfunded. The department also needs to update its records management system for a cost of about $557,000.

The Public Works Department has the longest “wish list,” with $168 million in total streets and alternative transportation projects, including the Ortega, Cota and Chapala Street Bridge Replacement projects on Mission Creek, and the Lower Mission Creek Flood Control Improvement Project. The department also proposes about $60 million in water and wastewater utility projects, which include the annual water main replacement program and the Cater Water Treatment Plant Strategic Plan Implementation.
e-mail: mwormser@newspress.com

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