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For the Record...

Have you heard something related to the City around town and want to know if it's true?  Check the bottom of this page for the "Current Buzz" or submit a question to us.  We will respond with available information directly and may post it here if there seems to be broad interest.  To see past posts, please check out "The Last Word" below.

The Last Word:

You've asked, we've answered.  Here are the real facts, for the record, to some of the more common  city business related questions you may have heard around town.  Check our archives here.

Send Us Your Question:

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Current Buzz:

On July 11, 2016, Council voted to approve $400,000 for drawings of a proposed central library. What is the status of that appropriation?

December 2, 2016 

The funding remains available to cover the costs of developing the schematic design for the new library.

As additional information, the majority of the funding available for library planning is coming from San Mateo County. The County offered a matching grant to cities that are working to build new libraries. In November 2015, the City Council appropriated $129,000 as our match for $500,000 that came from the County. Here’s a link to the City Council report that provides more information: Staff Report (the report is referred to as “Printout” on the page).

The $400,000 that you are asking about is just the portion allocated for the schematic design phase of architectural work.

Has the $400,000 for drawings of a proposed central library been transmitted to the architectural firm? If not, can we get our $400,000 back?

December 2, 2016 

No, funding is held by the City and has been budgeted to cover the costs of developing the schematic design. The architecture firm bills us as the work goes along.

Have the drawings for the proposed new library been produced? May we see them?

December 2, 2016 

No, the plans are not completed; the schematic design work is still underway. If you are interested in the process, the City’s Library Advisory Committee (LAC) holds monthly public meetings in the City Council Chambers, 2212 Beach Blvd.

Here is a link to the LAC’s webpage for more information: http://www.cityofpacifica.org/government/committees/lac/lac_agendas/default.asp

Why was competitive bidding for the architect for the proposed library not allowed?

December 2, 2016 

The selection process we used was competitive.

Several years ago, the City Council established a library subcommittee comprised of two Council members—Mike O’Neill and Karen Ervin. They worked with staff and representatives of the Pacifica Library Foundation, the Friends of the Pacifica Libraries, San Mateo County, and San Mateo County Library on planning activities related to a new library. This group was involved in the architect selection process.

Last spring, the City issued a request for proposals (RFP) and we received 10 proposals from qualified architecture firms. The top four firms were invited to interview with the library group described above and out of that process the top three continued to be considered. We made site visits to libraries designed by these top three, checked references and discussed other elements of the proposals. Out of this process, the library group (and staff) recommended that the City Council enter into a contract for library design services with Group 4.

How much interest do we pay a year on our Pension Obligation?

June 9, 2016 

We have received inquiries regarding interest paid on the City’s pension obligations. I would first like to provide a brief overview of the nature and structure of a pension plan.

  • A pension plan is an agreement in which the employer provides employees with a defined or estimated retirement benefit in exchange for current or past services. Pension benefits are paid from a pension plan to retired employees on a periodic basis. The pension plan is essentially an investment portfolio structured to provide enough funds to provide retiree benefits.
  • CalPERS offers a defined benefit plan where retirement benefits are based on a formula, rather than contributions and interest earnings to a savings plan. Retirement benefits are calculated based on a member's years of service credit, age at retirement, and final compensation (average salary for a defined period of employment).
  • A citizen has asked how much interest does the City pay on our pension obligation. The amount of annual interest accrual is typically not called out in any of our pension reports that we receive from CalPERS. However, the typical practice is to equate the interest expense rate at the same rates as the expected rate of return on the investment. The rate of return in effect at the release of our 2015 financial statements is 7.50%. So, while the Pension Plan may incur interest expense at that rate it also invests to make income at or above that rate. As long as the plan is functioning properly, theoretically future pension interest expense will always be offset by investment income.
  • Additionally, in 2010 the City essentially refinanced the pension obligations that had accrued to that point in time. The interest paid on these bonds will total $893,000 during fiscal year 2015-2016.