The $3 million, 2.7-acre youth sports park that will be built at 930 University Ave., north of and next to the Los Gatos Creek needs to be dedicated to soccer fields, Mayor Joe Pirzynski said Monday evening before accepting a staff report outlining its status and conceptual design.
"It's the sport that draws the largest number of people in our community," he said. "It's the sport that has the highest infill of new athletes ..."
While he was sympathetic to other recreational needs expressed by other athletic groups in the community, the mayor said he would hate to see the new facility diminished to please other uses.
In March, after several community meetings to gather feedback on the project, it was decided that a 300-by-180-foot soccer field will be built at the proposed facility.
Councilman Steve Leonardis agreed with the mayor and said it's important to give soccer players the largest field possible.
Ed San Juan, vice president of operations for Los Gatos United Soccer League, said the organization is willing to contribute $100,000 to support the facility and then ongoing support after it opens.
The town is conducting the park's environmental impact report, said Los Gatos Parks and Public Works Director Todd Capurso. He said the park project approved by the council Monday evening will give them an idea of what they'll need as they continue to work on the facility.
The council asked Capurso to look at parking provided by the facility. For example, if the park will offer 59 spaces but it's only building 41 stalls, then the town will need to enter into a joint parking arrangement with a local business for the extra spaces. However, if the uses change, and three games can be held at the same time, the parking demand will increase, making the town secure additional parking.
The council also adopted its $37 million fiscal year 2011-12 operating and capital budget.
The operating budget incorporates expense reductions and limited revenue enhancements totaling the $1.3 million necessary to balance this year’s budget after eliminating a previously planned increase to the town reserves.
This balancing includes targeted expenditure reductions, service delivery changes, the elimination of vacant positions and modest revenue adjustments to recover costs for private development and other user fee supported services, according to Town Manager Greg Larson's budget message to the council and mayor.
The five-year forecast projected a $1.3 budget gap for fiscal year 2011-12 and continued operating deficits over the next four years. With this forecast as a guide, staff began developing fiscal year 2011-12 budget strategies, including reductions that generate ongoing savings while maintaining service levels to the greatest extent possible, the message said.
Recommended staffing changes that involve departmental reorganizations, furloughs and alternate service delivery models resulted in an estimated savings of $800,000, Larson said.
- Larson's office will implement an administrative restructuring strategy to better align services to achieve operational efficiencies. A cost-neutral staffing plan has been developed, enabling the full integration of the Community Services Department into various town departments, including the Administrative Services Department, and a realignment of clerk functions.
- Services provided by the Community Services Department will be incorporated into Larson's office, including resources to support the Community Services Commission and Arts and Culture Commission; partnerships with LGS Recreation, LG Museums Association, and LG Music & Arts; and community grants and the Community Development Block Grant program. The services will be provided by the reclassification of a deputy town manager and a part-time staff technician. The community services director, administrative analyst and administrative secretary positions, which were previously funded in the Community Services program, will be eliminated. In addition, clerk functions will be aligned with the town attorney’s office, enabling the consolidation of customer support services in Larson's office. The customer service duties of the deputy clerk position will be redistributed to a part-time office clerk. This position will support the town manager’s office while performing additional clerical responsibilities. The remaining deputy clerk duties will be provided by a separate part-time position.
- A half-time deputy town attorney will also be appointed as a half-time clerk administrator. This staffing realignment will enable staff to allocate resources to focus on the goal of enhancing emergency preparedness and community outreach efforts as reflected in the adopted 2011-13 Council Strategic Goals. To achieve this, it is recommended that an existing full-time-equivalent position in the Administrative Services Department be modified to serve as a community outreach coordinator to expand community outreach, support and emergency-preparedness efforts, and staff the community volunteer program.
- A proposal to close the library on Sunday failed. Elimination of Sunday service would have generated about $65,000; however, council members felt this is a service that can't be cut.
- In the spring, the police patrol staffing schedule was modified from a combination 10-hour and 12-hour schedule with five patrol teams to a straight 12-hour schedule with four patrol teams. This new structure will reduce overtime, increase patrol staffing levels and allow for the elimination of a vacant sergeant position late next year.
- Unpaid furloughs for all town employees are included in the proposed budget and are expected to provide a savings of $340,000. To ensure minimal impact to town services, the furloughs will be implemented on Veterans Day, a national holiday in November, and during the annual holiday closure in late December. A furlough alternative that generates the same cost savings value is being explored with sworn staff.
Larson said it's expected that fiscal year 2011-12 general fund revenue will continue to remain relatively flat given the current economic climate.
With the exception of sales tax, which is expected to increase primarily due to Netflix, the town’s largest sales tax provider, the recession continues to impact the town’s economically sensitive revenues, including property taxes, charges for services, and licenses and permits.
Sales tax and property tax have been budgeted at a low growth rate for fiscal year 2011-12, Larson said.
A continuing challenge to the sales tax base is the portion attributable to the town’s auto dealerships, which has fallen from 30 percent to 12 percent over the past five years, he added.
Another concern is the importance of retaining technology-based businesses, which contribute to the town’s revenue. Netflix is the town’s largest provider of sales tax annually, contributing nearly 41 percent of the town’s sales tax revenue, he explained.
Diversification continues to be an important objective so the town can better weather the effects of economic cycles and their impact on services. To that end, the town will move forward with key economic development efforts, including the Los Gatos Boulevard Plan and North Forty Specific Plan, and maintain its outreach and support of downtown and local businesses through continued funding of the Economic Vitality Program, Larson said in his budget message.