Menlo Park plans to dip into its reserves by just over a half-million dollars to fill the gap between revenue and spending in the next fiscal year. The City Council approved the 2010-11, $38.1 million budget at its June 22 meeting.
Councilman Andy Cohen, who remained silent during the budget discussion, cast the only vote opposing the budget.
The spending plan leaves the utility users' tax at 1 percent, and calls for a staff reduction of the equivalent of almost seven positions -- a cutback that represents about $800,000 in savings, according to Assistant City Manager Starla Jerome-Robinson.
Four other staff positions that are now vacant are also under review to determine whether they need to be filled or can be cut, Ms. Jerome-Robinson said.
The $571,675 budgeted from the $25.5 million reserve includes $103,000 in anticipated costs for the ongoing project to create a specific plan for the downtown/El Camino Real area.
For the current fiscal year, the city had budgeted nearly $400,000 in spending from the reserve, but bumped that figure up to nearly $1.2 million mid-year because of lower-than-expected revenues.
The 2010-11 budget anticipates an increase of about $300,000 in property tax revenue; about $229,000 in sales tax revenue; and about $222,000 in hotel tax revenue.
Several residents spoke at the meeting against spending from the reserves, and the council also received e-mails from residents opposing the plan.
But council members noted that the city has been reining in costs and continues to look for more spending efficiencies. "We're going in the right direction, based on the numbers I've seen," Mayor Rich Cline said.
Saying that he doesn't want to "slash and burn services," Councilman John Boyle said: "We are in a recession. And we have the luxury of a reserve we could potentially dip into."
The budget is based on an analysis by staff of "all operations of the (city) from a long-term point of view," according to a staff report. That review, called "2010 and Beyond," resulted in the identification of "strategies which would help move the city toward a sustainable budget in the long term," the report said.