Why was news of Menlo Park's budget surplus withheld?
Original post made by Renee Batti, news editor of The Almanac, on Jan 18, 2007
I was shocked to read the announcement last week that Menlo Park had a $3.7 million budget surplus for the fiscal year that ended June 2006. All through the election cycle I kept hearing about deficits and the need for a new tax -- the Utility User Tax known as Measure K -- whose passage was promoted by now-Mayor Kelly Fergusson and other members of the City Council.
So, the tax passes (by only 60 votes) and now we find out that there was, in fact, a huge surplus. This looks suspicious. The surplus was for the fiscal year that ended four months before the election but it's not announced until two months after the vote on the utility tax.
On top of this, four council members (the new majority) wouldn't even allow council debate or solicitation of input from the public on setting the new tax rate. Rather, they opted to charge ahead with the full maximum rate allowed, which becomes effective April 1, 2007.
I think there should be some sort of investigation with respect to why the accounting went from a deficit of $900,000 in June 2006 to a surplus of $1.2 million in October to an even bigger surplus of $3.7 million two months after the election.
Were the voters being deliberately manipulated into voting for the tax? If we had a surplus, why should we tax ourselves? Why is the council even implementing the tax? Should the new tax be recalled? Someone needs to explain this.
Hermosa Way, Menlo Park