PIEDMONT -- The City Council on Monday took the next step to refinance the city's Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) "side fund" with the first reading of an ordinance.

Piedmont voters on Feb. 4 overwhelmingly approved Measure A to give the council permission to refinance the side fund. PERS in 2003 established side funds for the miscellaneous and safety plans because each plan had less than 100 members.

The Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee had recommended the city refinance these funds to save money. The amounts to pay off the side funds are $2,172,728 for miscellaneous costs and $5,031,808 for safety plan.

Financial adviser Brandis Tallman estimates a savings of $1,148,749 for a maturity date of June 30, 2020, for the pension obligation bonds, or $972,174 for a longer maturity of June 30, 2022.

The city is working with JP Morgan Chase Bank to obtain and "lock in" the best possible interest rate, which would vary from 2.87 to 3.13 percent. The council will conduct the second reading of the ordinance on April 21. The ordinance takes effect and the interest rate will be locked on May 21. Side funds would then be refinanced on May 30.

The council also approved Dudley Avenue sidewalk improvements for a total budget of $132,000, which includes a 15 percent contingency, inspection and landscaping allowances.

A sidewalk will be installed along the frontages of 70, 74, 82, 86, 90, 94 and 98 Dudley Ave. A meeting was held with residents on Jan. 28 to review the plans. Seven bids were received ranging from $137,830 to $82,175 from Rosas Bros. Construction, who were awarded the bid.

"We have worked with Rosas in the past, and they do a good job," Public Works Director Chester Nakahara said.

The city will reimburse property owners on a case-by-case basis for their curbside landscaping that would be removed for the project. Work is scheduled to begin in late April or early May. The project is funded through a Community Development Block Grant from Alameda County.

In other matters: The council also decided to name an alternate to the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee, because of a vacancy left by Tim Rood, who was elected to the council. Named was Dirk ten Grotenhuis "who stood out as an applicant," Councilman Jeff Wieler said.

And a new Civic Volunteer of the Year Award is being established by the council, where nominations will be sought and Mayor Margaret Fujioka will oversee the selection.

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