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Media Coverage
Richmond Looking For Improvement
June 16, 1999



Wednesday, June 16, 1999
Section: news
Page: A03
Shawn Masten

RICHMOND For the first time in two years, the City Council got a look this year at a long-range plan to improve dilapidated facilities, repair deteriorating streets and replace aging equipment.

The five-year Capital Improvement Plan, approved by the council last month, includes projects totaling $173 million for the city, the Redevelopment Agency, the port and the Housing Authority.

Of that, an estimated $30 million in improvements citywide are scheduled for 1999-2000.

Councilman Tom Butt, who long has called for an assessment of the city's infrastructure and capital improvement needs, says the plan is short on substance.

"It's not a plan, it's simply a wish list of projects that somebody thinks might be a good idea to implement," Butt said. "There's no connection between the projects and the funding."

Public Services director Rick Karvosky noted, however, that about $200,000 has been budgeted to do a comprehensive master plan for the next five to 10 years.

The 1999-2000 capital budget was presented to the council last week. The council is expected to adopt it along with the proposed city budget by the end of the month.

The total estimated $190 million budget includes the general fund, capital improvements, and special revenue funds such as the sewer district.

The capital improvement proposal includes the following:

* $3.4 million to lease new equipment, including 11 police cars, five city cars, four street sweepers, three sewer trucks, four fire engines and two fire trucks.

* $2.9 million for the long-awaited seismic retrofit of City Hall, the Police Department and Fire Station 61 in Point Richmond.

* $2.7 million for new playground equipment, trees and sidewalk improvements, and to help eliminate blight citywide.

* $1 million in improvements to the city-run port, including asbestos and the installation of rail tracks on the docks.

According to the plan, the projects will be funded from various sources, including gas tax revenue, state grants, the city general fund and revenue from Measure C, the 1988, voter-approved, half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements.

The plan was developed in conjunction with the management efficiency study by the Arthur Andersen Group. Completed this year, the $275,000 study was aimed at finding new or overlooked sources of revenue and savings.

In a deal with the city, Chevron agreed to pay $1 million in cash and services to help the city prepare for an expected $4 million loss in annual revenue from Chevron beginning in 2001. The loss is expected to result from a reassessment of the property tax on Chevron's Richmond refinery.