A Cut Above

I’ve mentioned this here before but it’s certainly worth talking about some more…Foster City is almost uniquely blessed among Peninsula communities when it comes to it’s financial condition. The city got a bunch of good news recently when it was discovered that their reserve balance is $2.1 million better than was expected. Foster City ended fiscal year 2009-10 with an unrestricted, undesignated reserve balance of $22.1 million.

That reserve is expected to shrink a little by the end of this fiscal year but it’s still going to be over $1 million than was anticipated in the adopted budget. The city develops five-year financial plans to help it forecast revenue and combat any projected shortfalls. So far, Foster City has been one of the few cities on the Peninsula that has not had to trim significantly from its staff to balance its budget.

I don’t think it’s possible to overstate what a big deal this is…as well as how amazing it is in the current economic climate. It seems like most of the Peninsula communities are way, way under water and are desperately struggling to survive without dramatically eliminating city services and staff. Foster City is an island virtually unto itself and the certainly this good news will have an impact on preserving property values. There are not going to be any parks closing or police forces eliminated here.

It’s worth mentioning that Foster City’s finance director is none other than our friend Steve Toler and his name is mentioned repeatedly in the attached article. Steve couldn’t be a better guy and a more dedicated public servant doesn’t exist. Since I began this blog Steve’s been enormously helpful to me in providing information and help in understanding FC and all of it’s aspects. It’s great that he’s gotten this public recognition. Way to go Steve!! Way to go Foster City!!

Here’s a link to the Daily Journal story:

City Has Healthy Reserve


  1. Thanks for the kind words, Jim. But know this is not about me … this is about a community with the right mix of residential, commercial, mixed-use and “light-industrial” development that bodes well for a good mix of property tax and sales tax revenues to keep doing what we’re doing. Current and former City Councils and staff have made the right decisions to maintain our financial strength. Lots of organizations say that fiscal health is important, but it’s interesting to me the culture in these halls at City Hall that lives that every day. Those aren’t just empty words … it really is palpable here.

    That being said, while this recent bit of good news better equips us to weather this economic storm, we do have a $2.9 million structural deficit that will need to be cured by 2013-2014. This is about a 10% structural deficit that will need to be cured, either through service level reductions, revenue enhancements, or a combination of the two. The City Council and Staff are working to identify what the possibilities are and will be holding a series of public meetings in November and December on how to put us on the right track for continued financial strength in this “New Normal”.

    Yet while we have this issue in the road ahead, our staff continues to count our blessings every day. The unfortunate plight of our brothers and sisters across the Peninsula (e.g., San Carlos, Half Moon Bay, San Mateo, the County) have led them to making cuts, some severe, to stay alive. We have been saved from that the past few years, but this economy touches everyone.

    I will be posting up the Financial Report upon which the linked article was based and will add that link when that’s done later today.


  2. Thanks for all the hard work Steve. It’s people like you that help make this city the great place it is.

  3. Kudos to the always-humble Mr. Foster City! 🙂

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