Atherton targets road, drainage fixes


Atherton will trim one police officer position, but the town is poised to pull off a balanced budget with a particularly large sum going toward capital improvements, such as road and drainage projects.

The $16.9 million budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 includes $5.1 million in funding for capital improvement projects, and forecasts being in the black by a very slim margin — about $4,500.

For the first time, the entire sum of parcel tax revenues, projected at almost $1.9 million, is budgeted for capital projects, said interim finance director Bill Yeomans.

"The City Council's deciding it wants to improve its infrastructure, and it's spending the money to do so," he said.

The budget was passed on a 4-0 vote at the June 18 council meeting.

Police Chief Bob Brennan managed to partially defeat a proposal to eliminate two of the department's 22 sworn officer positions. The council opted to retain the school resources officer who works at Menlo-Atherton High School, even though the school district is no longer contributing to the cost, as it has in the past.

However, one officer position — the officer was assigned to the county's narcotics unit — will be eliminated through attrition. Losing the specialty position won't reduce the number of patrol officers on the streets, said Mr. Yeomans.

Specialty positions, such as the narcotics detail or the San Mateo County gang task force, offer Atherton officers new skills and new challenges, Chief Brennan told the council at a special budget meeting on June 11. He said he believes that's the reason that the Atherton police department has seen very little attrition, while neighboring cities such as Menlo Park have had huge turnover.

"It's a philosophy on my part that you create opportunities for the people who are here," he said. "If you want to drive people away, losing these specialty positions is the way to do it."

The police department's total budget for 2008-09 is $5.15 million, up about 5 percent from last year.

The proposed budget adheres to the simple philosophy that "general fund expenditures cannot exceed general fund revenues," said Councilman Jerry Carlson.

The budget assumes that building permit fees will rise in the next six months, and that all revenue from the town's parcel tax will go toward capital improvement projects.

In past years, about $650,000 of parcel tax money has gone into the town's general fund, but in the current budget year Atherton was able to afford shifting that money back into the capital improvement fund, said Councilwoman Kathy McKeithen.


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Posted by laughing
a resident of another community
on Jul 21, 2008 at 5:15 pm

Atherton could dump the entire pd and still not miss a one of less "cop" to pick up newspapers. The horrors!! The town could save sooo much money if they used the Sheriff's Offices for services. Better resources and a whole lot more experience. The reason they send these "cops" to out of jurisdiction gang and drug task forces is because there is absolutly nothing to do within there own borders except to arrest drunk drivers in menlo and county areas. If they give them something to do for a while they might not apply elsewhere like 90% of them do...the other 10% are not hireable anywhere else. I know...I applied out years ago and went to a real agency with real crime. It is a pathetic organization.

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Posted by disappointed
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 22, 2008 at 9:16 pm

Hey Laughing, is there some good reason why you feel the need to bash Atherton PD every time there is an article on the police department? You are one angry human being. What point are you trying to make by personally attacking the "other 10% that are not hireable anywhere else?" Does it make you feel better to be a jerk to a bunch of people that you don't even know?

You are correct...90% of the people did leave at one point when things were bad, but you don't even know many of the people you are talking badly about.

This really bums me out because I have a pretty good idea who you are, and up until this point, I really looked up to you. I pray to god that this post did not come from you because I cannot even fathom what kind of a professional public servant would go on a public forum and bash an organization that he still has FRIENDS at. Are we in the third grade?

Act your age.

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Posted by laughing
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2008 at 10:53 pm

Oh Disapppointed...did I strike a nerve????? The truth hurts doesn't it? Atherton Police is a total joke. The only arrests made are out of jurisdiction and for drunk driving illegal immigrants. I KNOW...I used to work there!! Get off your high horse and admit what a joke the Atherton PD is!! A bunch of over paid "security officers" real cop works for that agency. I can speak from personal experience...cops get their "basic" post certificate and move on to a real agency...I did. I am ashamed to admit where I started my career but proud to say I have moved on to a real police agency with real crime. Get a grip are clearly one of the ones who was not hireable by any other agency...have fun picking up newspapers and shutting off ovens and leaky water pipes!!! I know exactly what your job description is...coddling the rich and letting the Atherton resident go with a is the order that will always need to reflect on what you are looking at for a career!

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