City Council Recap – 1/19/10 from Foster City TV on Vimeo.

There’s two very important reasons to watch this FCTV video highlighting the most recent City Council meeting. First, because it’s possible to see our good friend, perennial Blog participant, and Foster City’s new Finance Director Steve Toler wearing a nice dress shirt and a tie. I told him I’d refer to him here as a stud, but I promised not to go that far, so let’s just say that he’s looking “studly” and be good with that. Secondly, and possibly of slightly greater importance, is the actual content of what he’s saying. In a nutshell, the City’s finances are in pretty darn good shape. There’s actually a significant reserve and financially Foster City is a very well managed community.

It also means that if you live in Foster City you’re pretty spoiled to tell you the truth. Many of Foster City’s sister communities here in the Mid Peninsula are not even close to the position that FC finds inself in right now. Let’s take a look at San Carlos for example. San Carlos is quite possibly the most coveted community in the area. It’s shown wonderful growth, it’s schools rank well (though not as good as FC’s) and it’s downtown has become a Mecca for shopping and dinning. I like San Carlos, don’t you? Guess what? Because of severe budget shortfalls the Parks and Rec department have recommended that 6 parks be closed by July 1 of this year. Not only that, the plan is to actually fence off these parks to prevent their use.

Sound bad? That’s not all. It’s also recommended that the youth center be closed for 10 months out of the year. The other two months will be open only for revenue generating activities. In addition all off season sports will end. Spring soccer, fall baseball and softball will receive no field time at all.

Imagine this scenario in Foster City. Catamaran and Boothbay parks closed…and fenced off! Not only can you not use the fields but the tennis and basketball courts are off limits too. Ketch, Turnstone, Killdeer, and Sunfish Parks closed as well. The Vibe closed for 10 months out of the year. Half Moon Bay, San Bruno and Millbrae are a mess too for what that’s worth…and their restaurants aren’t as good as San Carlos either.

No matter where you live it’s not uncommon to hear some bashing from time to time of local government. In my opinion at least, Foster City has done a remarkable job in managing it’s financial situation and they should be commended.


  1. SteveTinFC says:

    Thanks for the post, Jim, but as I said, the only stud around here is the that beam behind the drywall in my office. 🙂

    Seriously, I know you and I have talked about this, and you touch upon it in your article. But I have always believed (meaning, before I became a public administrator) that it’s important to recognize that people living in a community where the City is operated in a solid and conservative manner ensures that services that residents rely upon are available to them. It is very concerning what Half Moon Bay, San Carlos, Millbrae, San Bruno and others are going through on the Peninsula — looking at drastic cutbacks which will close recreation centers, community centers, delay roadway improvements, etc.

    If people are looking to purchase a home in a community, they always check schools, proximity to transportation corridors, employment, etc. But one other criteria they should consider are the services provided by their local city and the financial health of that city in being able to provide those services.

    Foster City’s past and current City Councils and staff have taken their role as “stewards of the public’s finances” as one of their most important roles. This is not to say that other cities have not taken that role seriously, but it is a part of our culture here in FC. So while some decisions may not be popular with some (particularly where they involve City assets), know that a driving force behind those decisions is making the best long-term decision for the community, with a guiding principle being fiscal responsibility.

    OK, enough of that. But if anyone has questions about our finances, they are more than welcome to reply here or e-mail me at

    Now I’ll turn this blog back to the REAL stud among us … Mr. James Minkey! Jim… 🙂

  2. It takes a lot of discipline for Foster City to stay within its budget. Kudos to Steve and the other council members. I’m sad to hear of San Carlos’ situation…

  3. A small correction. San Carlos schools accepts kids from EPA that are bused in. These kids are typically, non-English speaking or income challenged (aka poor). That drags down the scores. Otherwise, the scores would be on par if not above FC’s

  4. Jim Minkey says:

    I’ve never heard of bussing of elementary kids into San Carlos schools…but I’ll check. Secondly, is there some kind of test that allows us to actually see whose grades are better than others and then demographically show where the bad grade kids came from that would prove they’re from EPA? I’m thinking not. Nice try Joanne…Foster City schools are better than San Carlos schools. Period.

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