Atherton hires efficiency experts to scrutinize operations


Two consulting firms have been hired to review the town of Atherton's police, building, and public works departments to analyze their operations and suggest ways to improve the quality and effectiveness of the services they provide residents.

The Atherton City Council on Feb. 16 voted 4-0, with Kathy McKeithen absent, to authorize agreements with the firms to conduct the "organizational effectiveness and efficiency" studies, which were recommended by interim City Manager John Danielson.

The review of police services, the Communications Center, and related services by the firm PMC will cost a maximum of $25,000, according to Mr. Danielson. Interwest Consulting will review the building and public works departments and related services at a cost capped at $48,000, Mr. Danielson said in a staff report

The money, which was not budgeted for the current fiscal year, would come from cost savings from other areas of the budget, particularly from salary savings in the city manager's office, he said.

Mr. Danielson said the reviews are critical to his being able to live up to the commitment he made when he was hired -- to "turn over every rock" to ensure the public's money is being spent as efficiently as possible.

As part of his contract agreement, Mr. Danielson will not apply for the permanent city manager position. Instead, one of his key roles as interim manager -- a job he began Jan. 3 -- is to help the town address its dire financial situation. Atherton is facing a structural budgetary deficit of about $1 million that the council, staff, and a citizen advisory committee have been struggling to whittle down.

Although the reviews will be an additional draw on an already tight budget, the council appeared confident that the money will be wisely spent. The town "will end up with recommendations that will significantly (improve) our budget," Mayor Jim Dobbie said.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Lewis endorsed the reviews as "an excellent approach" to addressing the town's financial woes, and Councilman Jerry Carlson noted that the process should help Mr. Danielson with his mission "to get our house in financial order."

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Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Feb 24, 2011 at 11:25 am

It is about time that the City of Atherton hired a credible consulting firm to once and for all, clear the air in this small City in the Southern part of San Mateo County. The newspapers, and some residents, are having a field day with the staff and and City Council. Hopefully, the current City Mgt will get the backing he needs to get to the bottom of the Cities problems. With all the negative newspaper articles, it is probably worth some of the taxpayers funds to clean up this mess.

Like this comment
Posted by mike sweeney
a resident of another community
on Feb 25, 2011 at 7:41 am

Good for atherton. Thats more productive than using tax payer money to put a spin on the inside doings and slam firefighters like MPFPD has done.

Like this comment
Posted by sally
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 25, 2011 at 11:14 am

mike puts a spin on this thread to misunderstood, over paid Menlo Park firefighters.

Like this comment
Posted by elephant in the room
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Feb 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Atherton had an efficiency expert on its payroll several years ago. His name is John Johns. He was the Town's finance director. He was expelled from the Town when he started asking questions about how the Police Department was spending its money.

Let's hope the consultants don't suffer the same fate.

Like this comment
Posted by Doubt it
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 26, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Unlike Mr. Johns, I suspect these consultants were hand-picked, like Police Peterson, to figure out how the cops are actually overworked and underpaid. Nope, I don't see these guys creating a "hostile work environment." And I don't see the police chief roughing them up or falsely arresting them either. They will make people like Jerry Carlson very happy.

Like this comment
Posted by Eyes Wide Open
a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2011 at 8:16 pm

You are aware of Mr. Danielson's past, aren"t you? See: Web Link

He and Interwest are tied together at the hip as well.

Good luck.

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Person
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2011 at 3:31 pm

City Manager Danielson was the former City Manager of Elk Grove, which contracted out entire city departments to both PMC and Interwest Consulting.

I would be very skeptical and suspicious of these "studies."

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

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