City revenues $3.1 million off pace


The books have closed on the first half of the current fiscal year, and the outlook isn't exactly rosy for Menlo Park -- though it's also not as bad as it may seem, according to the city's finance director.

Through Dec. 31, halfway into the fiscal year that began on July 1, the city's revenues had only hit 41.8 percent of the revenue projection for the year -- $3.1 million short of half the expected revenue for 2008-09. Sales tax is down from the previous fiscal year, building activity has decreased, and the city is earning less interest on the general fund.

The shortfall "might look bad, but it's not too much more than was anticipated" when the city prepared its budget, said Finance Director Carol Augustine, because Menlo Park tends to receive a higher percentage of its income in the second half of the fiscal year, for a variety of reasons.

For one thing, three budget categories, the bulk of which tend to be collected in the second half of the year -- franchise fees, property tax and the tax on guests in hotels and motels -- fell approximately $1.5 million short of the prorated revenue projection, though they are not far off the last fiscal year's pace.

Fees associated with building permits and business licenses -- the two are lumped into the same category -- were $918,000 below the prorated revenue projection. Ms. Augustine attributed much of that decline to the fact that the vast majority of business license fees are paid in the second half of the year.

Still, both the number of building projects and the size of those projects has decreased, Ms. Augustine said. Sales tax is off $134,000 from the same time in the 2007-08 fiscal year. And the interest the city gains from the general fund has also declined.

City staff will make recommendations on expenditure cuts when it presents its mid-year report on the budget to the City Council in late February.


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Posted by your tax dollars at work?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 26, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Eliminate high paying, non essential administrative positions added in the boom times. If corporate downsizing improves the bottom line, time for the city council to slash ridiculous spending on overpaid senior administrative positions.
Examples of disposables,
Community Engagement Mgr. $125K per year, imported from Michigan, glorified survey taker, what a waste.
Business Development Manager and Asst., $200K per year, can't attract nor sustain sales tax paying businesses. Zero return on taxpayer investment. Our wasted money. Business will locate here when exorbitant commercial/retail space rents are market driven to realistic levels. Nothing a city staff member can do about that.
Time to stop indulging empire building city manager. Make him earn his $250K per year by demanding cuts in administrative services budget.

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Posted by tax dollars at work2
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 27, 2009 at 12:29 pm

In addition to the above poster do the following:

Remove position of ass't City Manager -- A city the size of Menlo Park doesn't need an ass't City manager

Kill off right now the Visioning process which is going nowhere fast and will be useless until Stanford declares its intentions.

The sidewalk project in the Willows should be paid for by an assessment district not by the whole city of Menlo Park.

Go thorough the never ending lists of studies, crop them off severely and then get rid of the extra staff need to support these useless wastes of time and money.

Let the SEIU know right now they are not going to get a pay raise. If they decide to strike, let them strike.

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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2009 at 1:53 pm

TDAW and TDAW2--I could not agree more with both of you-great ideas that would really work. Too bad your both not on CC, because if you read the article on what their going to discuss to spend millions on-reducing MP's carbon footprint, even if they adopted your great ideas, they would waste the money saved. Maybe once the State actually starts paying its bills with IOUs people will wake up and see that we're all in deep yogurt!

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Posted by do the math
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 27, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Augustine thinks that business license, franchise fees and transient occupancy tax (lodging bed tax) will bring a "break even" 2nd half FY income. Wouldn't bet the farm on it in this economy.
Rosewood will be lucky to get 30% occupancy, even @ $200. nt. per room. It's too far from the real action where deals are done. Corporate travel budgets are shrinking (video conferencing!), conference/convention biz is history this year, Sand HIll VC biz is in the toilet (except for green energy), savvy biz travelers will opt for the downtown PA restaraunt venue (think Westin) to be where the action is. Rosewood has little going for it.
Sales tax will continue to shrink, as shoppers will head for Costco, Target and online (to save sales tax!). MP Grocers will do fine, but they're not collecting sales tax on food, shoppers will make volume purchases of taxable household staples in RWC now that gas is $2 gallon.
Back to tonite's council "Information Item". Just look at page 5 of the staff report under Council Agenda I-1, note that administrative services costs have soared 16% this year (think bloated administrative salaries). Gotta start major cutbacks there, administrative services salaries, before sacrificing library hours and other threats of service cutbacks that prior management has threatened when revenue shrinks.

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Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 28, 2009 at 9:50 am

Was there a listing of all the money that Rojas wants to spend, and where can I see it? I just read the a story from the "daily post" which lists that Frank Benest will be paid $5,500 for running 2 "facilitation" meetings to train MPs future leaders within the city staff.

What else is Rojas spending my money on?

All this talk about comparable salaries, etc. is just a waste of time. Open up the jobs to the public and I bet there will be hundreds if not thousands of applications. All from people who are far more educated and far more successful than the people we have now.

Just another example of how far from reality our "leaders" are. These guys use our money for their own leadership training, oh and they hire from their own. No new ideas = no leadership my friends.

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 28, 2009 at 2:54 pm

tax dollars at work2, I have to agree with you!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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