On Tuesday (June 16), will the Menlo Park City Council follow through on approving a budget that would have the city spending more than it takes in for the next three years?
The city's staff has proposed a $78.1 million budget for fiscal year 2015-16 that would spend $49.3 million from the general fund, but with estimated revenue of $48.1 million. The imbalance is mainly due to increased labor costs, as approximately 11 full-time employees would be hired to help process incoming projects.
At least three council members -- Rich Cline, Kirsten Keith and Peter Ohtaki -- expressed support for the budget during a public hearing on June 2.
Councilman Ray Mueller stated he wanted to build reserves and have a balanced budget instead of running a deficit, and Mayor Catherine Carlton said she wasn't comfortable with the proposed budget, but also understood the opportunity cost of having a backlog of projects.
Also on the agenda -- setting the maximum potential development to be analyzed by the environmental impact study of the zoning update for the M2 industrial zone, which is part of an overall revision of the city's general plan.
Existing regulations don't allow residential or hotel uses without variances within the M2, something that needs to change as a number of housing projects are underway in the zone along with larger developments such as Menlo Gateway. After holding a series of community workshops, the city is considering creating two "live/work/play" areas in the zone, one along Jefferson Drive and the other along Willow Road.
The Planning Commission on June 8 voted 5-0-2, with Katherine Strehl absent and Drew Combs recused, to support the maximum potential development recommended by the General Plan Advisory Committee for analysis:
■ 2.1 million square feet of new nonresidential buildings.
■ 4,500 new housing units.
■ 5,500 new jobs.
■ 600 new hotel rooms.
The commissioners emphasized that this does not represent the actual amount of development that will occur.
"It's important to, dare I say, slightly inflate" the amount of development to be studied to ensure that mitigations are in place for the worst case scenario, said Chair John Onken. He compared it to taking out more money from an ATM than you plan to spend on a night out, just in case unexpected expenses pop up.
The complete agenda with associated staff reports is available online.
The June 16 council meeting starts with a closed session for labor negotiations at 6:30 p.m., followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St. Catch the action live via the city's website.