Last year the council didn’t pay the ABAG dues because it believed the agency was not committed to Oakley. Montgomery said ABAG has not been “fully consistent and cooperative in addressing our (the city’s) concerns with regard to various studies and population projection estimates that they provide for the city of Oakley,” but the agency has begun to work with the city more efficiently, so he recommended that the council approve a good-faith partial payment of the agency dues. Last year’s dues were $6,268, and Montgomery said this year’s dues will be about $200 to $300 more.
Mayor Pat Anderson explained that the city didn’t pay its dues last year because it was unhappy with ABAG’s performance: “As Mr. Montgomery stated, we didn’t pay our dues last year, but the Association of Bay Area Governments, in my mind, didn’t make any adjustment to their dues in the wake of the enormous economic crisis hitting cities. They certainly could have done that since they represent cities. Instead, the dues have increased, so I think we need to take a lot into consideration. I think last year is gone. I would be looking forward to what we are doing going forward.”
Vice Mayor Jim Frazier agreed that since ABAG didn’t live up to Oakley’s expectations, last year’s dues were irrelevant. But he was hesitant to agree to the good-faith payment.
“I feel that we should not pay someone for poor performance,” said Frazier. “When they get it right, then we can acknowledge that we want to be apart of it. Since I’ve been on the council, a little over a year and a half, I’ve not seen any benefit from this ABAG membership. … It’s not giving any type of support to the city of Oakley. Six thousand a year – for what?”
ABAG is an agency that represents 101 cities and towns in nine counties of the San Francisco Bay region. According to its Web site, ABAG is committed to lead the region through advocacy, collaboration and excellence in planning, research, housing and member services to advance the quality of life in the Bay Area.
One of the city’s biggest gripes with the agency is that according to ABAG population projections, Oakley’s population will be 41,000 by 2025. Since the city already has a population of approximately 34,000, Montgomery believes that estimate is incorrect. As ABAG projections help determine how state and federal funds will be distributed, Montgomery said the projection should be more accurate, and as of late, the agency has been in discussion with the city to review the numbers.
“We look forward to working with the ABAG staff on the population estimates and any other studies conducted by ABAG that would affect Oakley,” Montgomery stated in an e-mail to the Press.
Council members Bruce Connelley, Carol Rios and Kevin Romick agreed that the city should not pay last year’s dues but offer the agency an advance payment of $3,000 toward the 2010-11 dues, which are due next June. Mayor Anderson said the council should review the situation in six months to see if its satisfaction with ABAG has improved, and if so, the council would consider paying the rest of its dues.
Despite Frazier’s opposition to paying any fees at this time, he “begrudgingly” agreed to support the decision to pay $3,000.