A renewal of Piedmont's municipal services tax will be on November's ballot, per approval by the City Council at Monday night's meeting.
The tax would go into effect July 1, 2013, if approved by voters. The council will hold a second reading of the election ordinance at its next meeting. The ordinance must pass by a four-fifths council vote by state law. It passed 5-0.
Councilwoman Margaret Fujioka stressed how important the tax was to sustain the city's level of services and stay in the black.
The tax has been renewed every four years since its first passage in 1980. The parcel tax raised about $1.6 million in the 2011-12 fiscal year.
The newly formed Budget Advisory Committee had recommended in its lengthy report that the tax was integral to the city's financial well-being.
Contractors will be busy this summer repairing sanitary sewer pipes at the high school and middle school. J. Howard Engineering, the lowest bidder, will perform the work replacing broken pipes, lining existing pipes and trenching.
"In October 2011 there was an overflow in the system," Public Works Director Chester Nakahara said. "The best course of action is to repair while school is out."
The council approved spending $65,960 for the work with an overall construction budget of $103,470 that includes a contingency fund, construction management, inspection and testing. Nakahara also recommended striking a three-year contract with Coastland
The council was concerned about fee increases by the firm of 2 percent to 3 percent in the new contract.
Nakahara said Coastland has not raised its rates the past four years. Coastland's engineer John Wanger agreed to maintain his hourly rate of $165 for the length of the contract. He pointed out that Coastland's costs have risen for medical insurance premiums, but the company had not passed those increases on to Piedmont.
The council asked for a list of Coastland's engineering staff's rates to keep tabs on costs.
Councilman Garrett Keating suggested in the future putting out a bid to other firms to perhaps save money.
"Keep someone with familiarity," Councilman Jeff Wieler said. "I can't see the cost of switching to save a nickel."
The city learned that it will lose its free basic cable service, as will the Piedmont school district, due to changes in the video franchise agreement with Comcast. Comcast provides the telecast services for Piedmont's KCOM Channel 27 government cable.
Cities can no longer negotiate franchises independently per changes in the Public Utilities Code passed by the state legislature effective Jan. 1, 2008. The city as well as the school district will have to pay about $17 per month for basic cable in their offices.
Comcast pays a franchise fee to the city of 5 percent of gross revenues for video services as well as 75 cents per subscriber.
The council also approved in a second reading an ordinance to establish a two-tier retirement system, with new nonpublic safety employees subject to a 2 percent at 60 retirement formula.