Posted by Paul Collacchi, a resident of the Woodside: Emerald Hills neighborhood, on Oct 29, 2006 at 4:14 pm
My post was in response to the Press Release issued by Nicholas Jellins, to fill in what he left out. I regret not giving more background to the ’05-06 budget.
The 05-06 budget was unique. On page 4, it describes why:
"This proposed budget calls for a $672,575 shortfall between revenue and expenses in 2005-06. Eliminating General Fund appropriations for capital projects moderated this shortfall. Given the consequences of a sustained deferral of street and other infrastructure maintenance, this is a very short-term strategy for reducing the budget shortfall.
More importantly, the City is left with an operating deficit – which will only be resolved if and when growth in the City’s revenues outpaces rising expenditures."
In other words, the “unsustainable, short-term” budget practices made 05-06, appear better than other years because it eliminated yearly General Fund appropriations for capital maintenance.
A large part of the “new savings", just announced, stems from the fact that Menlo Park did not fill personnel vacancies that will or have since been filled, and from other non-recurring accounting items that do not address any of the underlying structural issues.
So, in an election year, Menlo Park was able to show an operating surplus using non-recurring accounting gimmicks giving the appearance of good news, when the news about structural factors, still declining sales tax revenues--the worst in 13 years--is bad.
And you are inaccurate about the candidates. They are denying the deficit. Their campaign literature even says “managed expenses to balance budget”, and in forums, campaigns, and coffees, they are denying deficits and structural deficits pointing to the 05-06 budget, as "this year's" budget, as if it were typical and representative.
The projected deficit for the next fiscal year is $1.85M.
Menlo Park has a right to know the full financial facts.
I re-assert my origin opinion with still more emphasis: “Along with outright denial of key facts, the selective release of fragmented, mis-stated, and incomplete financial data, favorable to positions and policies advocated by the Council majority of my former colleagues, Mickie Winkler, Lee Duboc, and Nicholas Jellins is one of the most troubling aspects of their governance.”