The Tuesday, Oct. 15, meeting of the Menlo Park council takes a turn away from controversial topics such as police surveillance and village character to consider the decidedly more prosaic subjects of the city's median greenery and the general fund.
As part of a budget-cutting move in 2011, the council agreed to consider contracting out landscaping services for Menlo Park's medians and rights-of-way. Out of four bids, staff is recommending the council go with Gachina Landscape Management, at an annual cost of $195,688. That would save the city an estimated $93,912 a year if Menlo Park is happy with the work.
According to the staff report, an examination of the contractor's work in two other cities raised some concerns, with one jurisdiction sprouting "a considerable amount of weeds" in the medians and rights-of-way. Gachina reportedly responded that the company had only been under contract in that locale for one year and that the situation was even worse before they started work.
"They also mentioned that since their business is located in Menlo Park, they understand the expectation and high standard Menlo Park values in their landscaping and they will meet that standard," the report states.
Other cost-cutting moves are partly responsible for why the city's general fund looks better than expected. A staff report calculates that Menlo Park ended the 2012-13 fiscal year with $184,000 more in its general fund than projected, covering the $108,000 the council recently approved for the purchase of automated license plate readers and surveillance cameras with $76,000 leftover.
Revenues climbed 11 percent from the previous fiscal year, with the largest gains seen in property tax, hotel tax, licenses and permits, according to the city's finance department.
The staff report shows that expenses also rose by 11 percent; a large chunk of that $2.7 million is due to a one-time transfer to the capital improvement projects fund. Three departments saw higher expenditures public works, community services and administrative services as the city filled vacancies, and spent more on utilities, gas and contractors in addition to seeing increased participation in community programs.
Tuesday night's council meeting starts with a closed session for labor negotiations at 6 p.m., followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St.
Click here to review the agenda and associated staff reports.