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City Council Passes Budget Unanimously

Concord council first postpones a scheduled increase in commercial development street improvement fees, calling for further analysis.

The Concord City Council, with a last-minute adjustment downward of some business fees, passed a 2011-12 status quo budget Tuesday night that follows two years of deep cuts in programs and personnel.

The council paused as it was about to approve the budget — unanimously — to pass a motion by Vice Mayor Ron Leone putting a hold on increases in Off-site Street Improvement Program (OSIP) fees for commercial, office space and industrial projects.

Leone pointed to a staff analysis that showed Concord engineering fees for a commercial project rising from $8.81 to $9.06 per square foot, significantly higher than similar fees for Walnut Creek ($5.21 per square foot) or Pleasant Hill ($6.40 per square foot). 

Mayor Laura Hoffmeister agreed to the delay until a planned evaluation of all OSIP fees — “holistically” — in January. She noted that a straight comparison doesn’t tell the whole story. For instance, Walnut Creek has other fees that Concord doesn’t charge commercial developers, one for art in public places and a housing impact fee.

Assistant City Manager Valerie Barone agreed, adding that other jurisdictions might require use permits in instances when Concord does not.

Councilman Dan Helix agreed to the delay, with a staff analysis to look at Concord’s competitiveness in development fees. “My understanding is that we were in the middle on this,” he said.

Leone said he wanted to make sure Concord was competitive in the level of fees and in the ability to “get businesses up and running in a timely manner.”

Hoffmeister noted that many cities encourage commercial developments in redevelopment areas, but that tactic is up in the air as the state goes to the brink on its 2011-12 budget with proposals to un-fund local municipalities’ redevelopment agencies, including Concord’s.

With the proposed OSIP fee increases set aside for analysis in January, the council then unanimously passed the budget as proposed. Tuesday’s session was a public hearing on the budget, but no members of the public addressed the budget.

The proposed 2011-12 budget, when it was unveiled in late May, showed expenditures of $172.1 million, up from $168.8 million in the adopted 2010-11 budget, a one-year proposed increase of 1.97 percent (also a big drop from the peak budget year of $207.7 million in 2009-10). See .

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