Hello, neighbors! There are many great things going on in our community, but our work is not done yet as we still have some challenges.
Challenge #1: Getting our Community Center built. I ran into a neighbor, who I will call BJ, at Sushi Land. BJ is still in the construction industry and word on the street is that construction companies have so much work now that they can’t ramp up enough to take on any more projects. In a free market economy, if demand (for their services) exceeds supply, then the price goes up. BJ spoke of one recent project where the construction firm commanded and got TWICE the construction budget, just so the owner could get it built. This does not look good for our Community Center, which has gone out to bid again with the same Construction Budget of $15 Million, and the bids are due next Monday, 10/09/2017 at 2:00 PM. I am not optimistic at all that any one will build it for that. Someone might win the bid, but since the delivery method is now design-bid-build, they may drown us in Change Orders (work that is added to or deleted from the original scope of work of a contract which may or may not alter the original contract amount and/or completion date). Where does that leave us? If (once again!) no one is willing to build it for the $15M, then we either need to get more money or re-design the project, or scrap it entirely (which is not acceptable!).
Below is a link to the video of the Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting that was on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 (Bookmark that video, I will get back to it.): http://alamedacounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=4817
During this segment discussing our Community Center going out to re-bid, which begins at the 19-minute mark, Supervisor Miley mentions EALI Tier One funding.
A little background: When approving the FY2013/14 Budget in June 2013, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a budget policy to use former RDA funds (ongoing residual property taxes or “boomerang” funds) returning to the County, (for the up to $90.0 million) at a rate of up to $18 million per year for five years, to fund the “Tier One” list of unfunded RDA projects in the unincorporated County. I think the “boomerang” name is because the projects are timed to complete as the residual property tax receipts come in to fund them; the taxes are applied retroactively to the projects. That is where one of our delays came in. Our Community Center is on that “Tier One” list:
Over the next year, it seems that is was concluded that residual property taxes were “slower-than-anticipated” (in other words, fell short) of what they anticipated by $12,224 or 3 percent due to $32,562 received in fiscal year 2013 from post‑RDA dissolution funds. However, this was offset by an increase of $16,425 in assessed property value and $5,774 in supplemental property tax due to increase in home sales that year (according to County Audits for FY2013/14 Budget).
Because of that shortfall, in July 2014, the Board of Supervisors approved a recommendation by the Planning Committee of the Community Development Agency (CDA) to extend the five‑year timeline of the funding of the Tier One projects for even longer than the original five years (I couldn’t find how much longer in the time I had to research it) so that the projects were RE‑timed to complete as the tax receipts come in to fund them. More delays.
Susan Muranishi, County Administrator, warned in the FY 2016-2017 Proposed Budget letter (dated June 9, 2016): “[…] completion of “Tier One” projects could be further delayed if tax receipts do not keep pace with project plans, project cost increases and timelines. Additionally, there will be $5.0 million less available per year for “Tier One” capital projects based on your Board’s December 2015 decision to allocate the first $5.0 – $7.5 million of property tax revenues based on prior year receipts, toward affordable housing programs starting in FY 2016-2017.
There has been mention of “surplus” Tier One Funds, as recent as last year (for such things as increased shared Castro Valley parking).
What does this all mean? The best that I can figure is that, in as plain English as I can:
- We will probably NOT get our community center built for the $15M.
- It appears that the answer to our project cost increases caused by delays is more delays. Which will cause more project cost increases. It’s a vicious cycle.
- It appears that there are “surplus” Tier One Funds.
- It appears that our Community Center is lower in priority than affordable housing programs or parking in Castro Valley. Cherryland is still the red-headed stepchild.
Can more money be had? I believe so. The monies available have a great deal of flexibility to be moved around, as evidenced by the allocation of $5.0 – $7.5M of property tax revenues toward affordable housing. (Don’t get me wrong, I am in favor of Affordable Housing.)
While these projects are built by the Public Works Agency (ACPWA), they are funded through the General Services Agency (GSA); specifically, the Office of Acquisition Policy (OAP). The person there that controls the purse strings is its Director, Willie A. Hopkins, Jr.
Getting back to the previously mentioned video: at one point Supervisor Miley says to Willie (who is off camera) that he will need to submit a Monthly Report of Progress Made “the buck stops with him; his agency is holding up this project”.
If you care to express an opinion to Willie regarding this, here is his contact info:
Willie A. Hopkins, Jr. (510) 208-9700 Willie.Hopkins@acgov.org
In the meantime, we are trying to get the Community Center on the Agenda for the Wednesday October 25th Unincorporated Services Meeting. Come out and show our solidarity as a community. We will keep you posted via our Facebook page; but if you are not on Facebook, feel free to call us or drop us an email: