The Atherton City Council will meet at 8 a.m. Monday, May 9, in a special public meeting that is likely to be the prelude to a round of staffing and spending cuts aimed at staunching the town's growing budget deficit.
The meeting, in the council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road, will begin with a public comment period, then proceed to the one agenda item: "Discuss and provide direction to the city manager regarding the budget deficit and reductions."
Interim City Manager John Danielson told the Almanac his intent is to give the council "one last opportunity to say I'm on the right track" with his strategy for reducing a growing budget shortfall – a strategy that would include "some pretty drastic measures."
As city manager, he said, he has the authority to lay off staff and reduce spending, but "I want to make sure all of those things are on the table" in the minds of the council. "If they are, I have to act quickly" because the deadline for submitting a new budget is fast approaching, he said.
These are "difficult, ugly times," he said, adding that the budget shortfall is around $900,000 now, but is "soon to pass $1 million."
Mr. Danielson said the Monday meeting was scheduled for 8 a.m. because of scheduling conflicts among council members. But, he added, "I'm not bringing any surprises" to the meeting. "These are things that have been talked about."
There is no written report; Mr. Danielson will give an oral presentation to the council, he said.
Beyond immediate cuts, the town will look at "everything possible in order to make this a fully sustainable organization," Mr. Danielson said. That could include reopening employee contract talks. But, he said, "this has to be a teamwork sort of thing to work."
"The budget is going to get resolved one way or another, either actively or by default. By default would be the worst way to go."
When hired as interim city manager in January, Mr. Danielson agreed not to apply for the permanent position. Top on the list of his key responsibilities was to get the town's woeful financial situation under control.