Viewpoint - December 22, 2010

Letter: Another top job for Menlo Park: balancing the budget

Your editorial last week listed two important city priorities but, oddly, left out the most critical. Let's face it, Menlo Park is not going to sustain any effort big or small until its budgets get under control — and this has not been done. Once again, the city is looking at a big shortfall.

For those who thought merely passing Measure L solved the employee costs issue, please note: the initiative only put limits on what the council may offer to future workers. As we said during the campaign, that's a start but council needs to direct real change. The rubber hits the road when the council next meets with the unions in January or February.

CalPERS, the agency that provides pension programs for Menlo Park and other cities, announced Wednesday (to no one's surprise) that the recently raised quarterly premiums that cities make to them are again falling short; again, we are on the hook for all of these increases, not those who will benefit from our impressive retirement programs. Further, as Kelly Fergusson said when dissing Measure L last summer, "the real cost is in the police contracts" which L did not address.

Only the City Council can address these critical, snowballing costs with our city employees. Do we have a council committed to making that happen? Will the council stick to the terms it imposed — such as making outsourcing easier and increasing contributions employees make?

Menlo Park residents became involved in 2010 as I've never seen before; let's hope the fires are still burning, and those residents keep the heat on the council to get our house in order.

Henry Riggs, Callie Lane, Menlo Park


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