Sunday, September 28, 2008

Roads, budget priorities for Lafayette candidates

All four Lafayette City Council candidates agree on what the council should focus on — fixing failed roads and keeping the city budget in order.

Incumbents Mike Anderson, Carl Anduri and Carol Federighi said the city is on the right track. The council is doing its best to fix roads with what money the city has, they say, and has done a good job protecting hillsides and managing growth downtown.

And if the city wants to fix all its failed roads, it will likely need a new source of revenue, each said.

Challenger Gabriel Froymovich said the city spends too much money on programs like downtown landscaping. The city doesn't need any new taxes, he said.

"There are a lot of nickels," Froymovich said. "The fiscal situation of the city needs to inform every single little decision we make in order to fund our roads and our law enforcement officers."

The city is already looking for nickels, the three incumbents said. Earlier this year the council created an independent financial advisory committee to look for waste. That committee, made up of local business and financial professionals not tied to Lafayette government, is due to release its report in late November or early December.

"We're not big spenders," Federighi said. "There just isn't that much fluff in the budget."

Anduri said money spent on the city's downtown comes back as sales tax revenue, which makes up about one third of the city's Advertisementgeneral fund budget.

"You can't criticize the things we're doing to make it more enjoyable for people who are spending money and then hope that revenues will go up," Anduri said.

Froymovich also said the current council is too supportive of condominiums downtown.

"We should focus on building our city around neighborhoods, neighborhoods of single-family homes with lawns," Froymovich said.

He doesn't want to open the city up to a lawsuit, he said, but the city should work harder to find a compromise that would limit downtown growth.

"I think we need to value our needs over our regional planning needs," he said.

All three incumbents said the city has no choice about meeting the regional and state requirements. In recent years the city has protested its housing allocations to the Association of Bay Area Governments, to no avail.

"I think we're really going to have to balance the desire of our community to keep our small-town feel with the demands on us by the region and the state to accommodate our fair share of housing," Federighi said. "That's going to be a difficult balance."

Anderson and Anduri said they wanted to meet a demand for senior housing that could be accommodated downtown.

And all three incumbents said the current council is effective.

"We really feel that we work very well as a group," Anderson said. "We speak freely, we understand the issues, we've all been in the committees. We've done this stuff and we understand it. I think it's a very good group."

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