Menlo Park's Future

 

How should Menlo Park Respond to the “New Economy?”

Fellow Residents:

How should the City of Menlo Park respond to the economic meltdown?  And, why am I the only one talking about it?

We know that the City will be impacted and the following may occur:

·         CalPERs (the pension fund for our City employees) has lost $70 Million since July, or 25% of its value.  By law, Menlo Park must make up any retirement- funding deficits out of the General Fund.

·         The State will take away almost $1 Million from our Redevelopment Agency.

·         City sales revenues will come in below forecast.

·         The City is forecasting a $1 Million deficit for this fiscal year ending June 2009 and the coming 10 years. 

·         Under current contracts and current staffing numbers, employee costs will increase more than $5 Million in the next 5 years.  However that figure will increase more because --

o        The City is negotiating a new police contract with the Teamsters now. 

o        The Council by a 4-1 vote just gave all temporary workers a 2% raise in addition to an automatic 2% COLA.  These employees are represented by the SEIU.

o        Four of the Council members who are negotiating these contracts behind closed doors have been endorsed by the unions. (One has just received a $1,000 campaign donation by the SEIU, the union representing the workers who got the above-mentioned raise.)

·         One positive note – the forecast rise in property taxes will be realized if real estate sales regain their usual pace.

We should not panic but –

·         It is important that the City Council and staff own up to these challenges and not simply go on as if economic instability doesn’t exist.

·         It is important that our Council members understand that many residents are worried about their own net worth and their own job security.  Last year more than half of our so-called surplus was from the utility users’ tax that we, the residents, paid, not from increases in sales or property taxes.

·         It is important that our City Council reconsider the hiring of more consultants for new studies. Why?

o        The costs of these studies are not included in the unbalanced City Budget, and

o        The rest of the El Camino Visioning process is not budgeted for (an additional cost circa $1 Million.)

·         It is important, now more than ever, that the County and all cities in the County get together and strategize on how to resist demands for increasing employee salaries and very generous benefits.  In June, before the melt down, the County’s operating deficit was already $26million.

·         Lest anyone doubt the potential impact on our government, listen to Marketplace: States are in dire financial straits http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/10/29/state_stim/

·         Finally, we all have the personal responsibility to realize that some favorite projects may have to be cut back or postponed.

How has your business, lifestyle, worry level been affected?  Any thoughts on what the City should do?

As always, I appreciate your ideas and comments;  write to me at  menlofuture@gmail.com.

If you would like to read any of my past emails go to http://menlofuture.weebly.com/index.html

Thanks,

Lee Duboc