Burlingame looks to float another flood control bond 

A second flood control and infrastructure-improvement bond could appear on the ballot as soon as June, but $7 million smaller than the one voters rejected in November, the City Council decided Tuesday.

In a race against a Jan. 16 deadline to notify residents of the dollar amount of another proposed general obligation bond, the City Council narrowed its focus Tuesday to a bare-bones $37 million option, down from the $44 million bond the city sought in Measure H.

That measure, which missed a necessary two-thirds approval by 2.7 percent, would have allocated $37 million for storm drain system fixes, with another $7 million set aside for seismic upgrades to city buildings. The $37 million proposal would instead allocate $35 million to storm drains and $2 million to recreation center seismic upgrades.

With many of the pipes and channel systems inthe city being approximately 75 years old, city officials argue that the infrastructure couldn’t handle the major rainstorms that come about every two years. "What this comes down to is that we have a deadline," Mayor Terry Nagel said Wednesday. We’re "struggling to find the lowest cost solution we can think of that will fix the problems and yet not cost people an arm and a leg."

Officials are also looking into two funding options that would shift the tax burden away from new property owners, the main opponents of a general obligation bond, who faced higher property assessments. Possibilities include creating a community facilities district, known as a Mello-Roos tax, that would localize taxes to certain directly-affected parts of the city in a special district, or a complicated storm drainage fee that could be levied based on properties’ specific terrain.

The council voted Tuesday to pay a consultant up to $5,000 to review the options so they can choose a path by their Feb. 21 meeting. Voters could see alternatives to a bond in a future mail-in election, City Manager Jim Nantell said.

"We’re trying to do this in a way that everyone sees as fair and that’s the big challenge," Nantell said.


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