Negotiations are settled with the city of Oakland for library services for Piedmonters, who do not have a library of their own.

The City Council on Monday voted 4-0, with Councilwoman Margaret Fujioka recused because she works for the city of Oakland, to pay Oakland $350,471 for 2010-11 for library services. Originally, Oakland was asking Piedmont to pay nearly double that amount to fall in line with what Oaklanders have to pay for service.

The Council also agreed to pay Oakland this same amount for 2011-12, but with provisions. Oakland has been anticipating closing several library branches due to budget constraints. If many branches that Piedmonters use are closed, the Council agreed the 2011-12 fees could be renegotiated. Those fees will not be paid until the end of that fiscal year, by agreement.

Data provided by library staff show that 4,482 Piedmonters are registered as library patrons. The branches they appear to use most are Rockridge, Piedmont Avenue, Montclair and Lakeview, with 1,305 registered users at Rockridge and 1,221 at Piedmont Avenue. It's likely the Piedmont Avenue branch will close. Its lease expires on Oct. 31, and Oakland is investigating alternative sites nearby. Renegotiating a lease with the new property owner of the Piedmont Avenue branch is cost prohibitive, say library officials.

"I don't want to spend $350,000 (for 2011-12) if we don't have a Piedmont Avenue branch," said Councilman Jeff Wieler, who voted against the second proposal, which passed 3-1.

Outgoing Piedmont League of Women Voters president Tam Hege said, "I am very excited with this news. This is not easy for Oakland. At this point, they need all the money they can get."

In other business, Public Works Director Chester Nakahara put residents on notice that Environmental Protection Agency-mandated smoke testing of sewer lines will start July 11, with door-to-door notices handed out that day and testing the following day.

Neighborhoods affected in this first phase include Magnolia, Vista, San Carlos, Craig and Pacific avenues, Arbor and Dale drives.

City-hired contractor E2 will conduct the tests which look for leaks in sewer lines. Nontoxic smoke is pumped into the lines, which, if there is a leak, emanates up through the ground. Leaks detected in private sewer laterals must be repaired by property owners. Nakahara estimated the cost at $5,000 to $10,000, but said the city will work with homeowners to solve any problem.

"Testing is important because each year, millions of gallons of stormwater infiltrates sanitary sewers and can overload the pump stations and treatment plant," Nakahara said. "Stormwater drainage is a separate network of pipes channeling stormwater directly into the bay."

One-eighth of Piedmont's sewer lines will be tested each year as part of a pilot program of which Piedmont is the first to go online. Six other East Bay cities are part of the pilot program.