Menlo Park's Future

 

BUDGET DEFICIT UPDATE:

Fellow Residents,

The 2008-09 budget has just been passed by the City Council with a 4 – 1 vote. 

(You can read about it by going to menlopark.org and then click on “proposed budget 2008/09.)

·         This budget projects that expenditures will be $38.4 M and income will be $37.23 M.

·         Expenses are expected to increase by about 6% and revenues are projected to grow by just 1.5%.

·         This budget does not include the costs of some “carry-over” projects such as the El Camino Real Visioning process and the Belle Haven police substation.

·         This does not include the cost of the proposed Kelly Park field renovation/expansion at the estimated cost of $4.4 M (which, contrary to what the press said, enlarges, but does not add, a field).

·         This budget relies on $1.83 M from other governmental entities, and we all know about the “state of our State”.

·         This budget was constructed before the recent explosion in fuel and utility costs which affects our City just as it affects us.  (Many of you have observed that there are many large, fuel-gulping civic trucks on our roads.)

·         Our general fund reserves have already shrunk by $10 M to cover post-retirement employee health benefits.

These are the facts, now for the “hopes and dreams” of our council members:

·         The majority is hoping that income projections are under-projected; as one council member is quoted as saying during last Tuesday’s meeting: “So far – knock on wood – Menlo Park has weathered this economic downturn reasonably well.”  (I wonder if stock holders of a publicly traded company would accept this line of reasoning from a board member.  I also wonder if he was paying attention during the dot.com bust.)   

·         One council member upon his recent election and action on the newly instituted Utility Users Tax exclaimed, “It is time to tax and spend!”

·         Council members who voted for this budget are fine with dipping into the general fund reserve if it is necessary.  (As noted above, they have already dipped into it to cover $10 M to fund underfunded retiree health benefits.)

From personal experience I know that it is always easier for council members to “just say yes” to every program and service, as well as every employee salary and benefit increase.  But how will this leave the City after the present council members are gone?

What can you do?  Demand that the council members bring our City’s expenses in line with revenues.  There are many ways this can be done, some of which are outlined in my email #3.  The simplest but possibly the hardest thing they could do is “just say no.”

NOTE:  El Camino is coming next.  Have a happy and safe Fourth of July.

Thanks.   Send your comments to menlofuture@gmail.com.

Lee Duboc