PIEDMONT -- Crime was up 20 percent last year from 2011, police Chief Rikki Goede told the City Council in her year-end report at its Monday night meeting.
But compared to neighboring cities such as Oakland, Berkeley and Albany, which also are experiencing double-digit increases, Piedmont is still a safe community, the chief said.
The two crime spikes were 135 burglaries reported in 2012 compared to 90 in 2011, and 14 assaults compared to one reported in 2011.
Goede explained that an audit of crime cases in the city contained discrepancies that were corrected to reflect the number of assaults.
"The vast majority of assaults were related to family disputes, where no weapons were used, all with hands or fists," she said.
There was one less robbery reported in 2012, with six, compared to seven for 2011.
Thefts remained constant with 151 for 2012, compared to 150 in 2011. Same for motor vehicle thefts, with 47 reported in 2012, compared to 46 in 2011.
Goede reminded the public about the "three L's" -- locks, lights and landscaping -- all deterrents to burglars. Shrubs should be trimmed around homes to not provide a place for burglars to hide. Locks should be sturdy and garages, doors and windows should not be left open when residents are away. Motion sensor lights and good lighting around the premises also deter burglars. Most of the burglaries are occurring during daylight hours when homeowners are away.
Money for license plate readers at entries to the city will be considered when Piedmont develops its budget for the next fiscal year, City Administrator Geoff Grote said.
Goede noted that the Police Department has not been up to full staff due to retirements and disability, but that two new officers are hired. Detective from other jurisdictions are helping with investigations, and the push is on to recruit police volunteers and establish more Neighborhood Watch precincts.
Residents are encouraged to visit the department's website www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/police where they can view a map of recently reported incidents.
Finance Director Mark Bichsel, in his last report to the council before his retirement, had good news in his midyear report.
"This was the strongest February we ever had," said Bichsel, referring to robust revenue from real property transfer taxes, which brought in $1.76 million the first six months of the fiscal year, with $3.25 million expected by year's end. This will bring additional estimated revenue of $650,000 to city coffers.
General fund expenditures are below budget due to reduced personnel costs, with two police officers on workmen's compensation and two retirements.
There is available funding of $891,540 for capital improvement projects. About $9.7 million is expected from property taxes for 2012-13, $1.6 million from parcel taxes, and $2.3 million from other taxes, Bichsel reported. A healthy general fund balance of $4.4 million is projected after expenses, up from 2011-12.
The council also approved 4-1, with Councilman Garrett Keating dissenting, the second reading of an ordinance dealing with cottage food operations in private homes.