Town's separation from fire district would be a 'tremendous blow,' says fire board president | January 29, 2020 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

Almanac

News - January 29, 2020

Town's separation from fire district would be a 'tremendous blow,' says fire board president

by Rick Radin

As Atherton considers a separation from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, which has provided the town's fire services for decades, the town's leaders assert that there's good reason to consider such a move: Atherton contributes far more revenue to the fire district through its property taxes than it receives in benefits, they maintain, citing a survey commissioned by the town for fiscal year 2015-16.

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Comments

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jan 28, 2020 at 10:52 am

From: Peter Carpenter <[email protected]>
Subject: It is time to end your "fiscal equity" scam
Date: January 18, 2020 at 10:54:47 AM GMT
To: Bill Widmer <[email protected]>, Mike Lempres <[email protected]>, Rick DeGolia <[email protected]>, Cary Wiest <[email protected]>, Elizabeth Lewis <[email protected]>

Dear Atherton Town Council,

This all began with a Town web page on Municipal Services:

Web Link

The Town has NEVER evaluated the revenues obtained by any of these entities from Atherton residents vs the value of services provided to Atherton residents EXCEPT for the Fire District. For example, Atherton residents pay far more to the school districts than they do to the Fire District and yet the percentage of Atherton students in those school districts is quite low.

Every one of the listed agencies plus the County, State and Federal governments receive far more from Atherton residents than the cost of the services which those agencies provide to Atherton residents.

You have been pursuing this issue for over FIVE years and you have accomplished nothing except to waste the tax payers' money and to create ill will.

Why - Because you do not understand Prop 13 and AB 8.
Because you have no authority or responsibility over property tax allocations.
Because nothing you can do will reduce the property taxes of Atheron residents by a single penny.
Because you do not represent the residents of Atherton with regard the functioning of any other government
agency that has its own elected body.
Because you constantly talk about fiscal equity without every acknowledging that given our progressive tax
system Atherton residents pay more for EVERY public service from national defense to local schools than
those Atherton residents receive in direct benefits from those entities.

PLEASE stop your waste of taxpayers’ monies and this exorbitant misuse of staff time on an issue that is beyond your understanding or your ability to change.

Peter Carpenter

Former Director MPFPD 2002-2018

Former President Atherton Civic Interest League

Former Atherton Resident

Current Menlo Park resident


Posted by Unbalanced Allocation of Tax Revenue
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 28, 2020 at 2:04 pm

Most people in our affluent communities don't mind paying more than their fair share for public services. I pay for schools but have no kids in them. The issue is the fire department. Every article says they want to be the best, have the best, get paid the best. Do we really need the country's best fire department on every measure? Wouldn't well equipped, well paid and well supported be enough? I would like to see the way tax dollars are allocated between public services change, but don't know how this happens. Probably why atherton thinks about leaving.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jan 29, 2020 at 3:20 am

"I would like to see the way tax dollars are allocated between public services change,"

It is notable that for over 30 years since the property tax allocations were set by AB 8 in 1979 the Town of Atherton had no complaints about these allocations.

Then the Town Council got addicted to extra revenues from parcel taxes.

And only when the Atherton citizens refused to approve extending the parcel taxes did the Town Council's cry foul over the property tax allocations that had existed and worked well for decades.

On the other hand the Fire District never had a parcel tax, operates within its means, invests in the future via station upgrades and apparatus improvements, budgets extra for pension liabilities and is financially well managed.

So now why should the residents of East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and the unincorporated areas of San Mateo County that are served by the Fire District have their services cut in order to feed the Town coffers of wealthy Atherton?

And in the process Atherton residents would not see a single penny reduction in their property taxes.

The only winner would be the Town government - to which its own citizens refused to give more money.


Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 29, 2020 at 9:02 am

Can you say "Grandstanding". Atherton wants out because they think they pay too much now. They will pay more if they separate.

LAFCO, the agency that has to approve the separation, opposes it.

Time for the Town to move on.


Posted by henry fox
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 29, 2020 at 12:32 pm

The Menlo Park Fire District is the richest agency in California. Its firefighters are the highest paid. And drives up cost for other fire districts.
It is a prop 13 creation, as I understand it.

I can understand why Atherton doesn't want to foot this bill.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jan 29, 2020 at 12:36 pm

"I can understand why Atherton doesn't want to foot this bill"

The Town of Atherton pays ZERO for fire services and its residents have never charged the Town Council to represent them regarding the allocation of their property taxes.


Posted by Negotiations
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 29, 2020 at 2:06 pm

Atherton is adopting a hard ball negotiating stance with the fire district. Something like if you don’t play ball (give us money for the town center), we will do something against Atherton’s own economic interest to retaliate against you, and it will also hurt you.

I just wonder why they can’t be tough guys with the police department also. That takes a lot more of our money than the fire district.

Does it have something to do with the money given to Lewis and Wiest to finance their campaigns?


Posted by Property Taxes
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 29, 2020 at 2:41 pm

Atherton residents pay about $4 to $5 million MORE PER YEAR in property taxes to the fire district for basic fire services than they do to the town for the entirety of government services, including the police department. This is because the fire district gets about 14 cents on every tax dollar while the town gets about 9 cents.

So, extending that out over a simple 10 years means that Atherton residents have paid nearly $50 million more to the fire district for basic fire services over the last 10 years than they have paid to the town for everything - including the police department.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 29, 2020 at 3:40 pm

"So, extending that out over a simple 10 years means that Atherton residents have paid nearly $50 million more to the fire district for basic fire services over the last 10 years than they have paid to the town for everything - including the police department."

And were the town to separate from the fire district they would pay even MORE. Brilliant.


Posted by henry fox
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 29, 2020 at 4:48 pm

Could atherton join the Redwood City Fire District? and pay less?


Posted by Mike S
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 29, 2020 at 7:17 pm

Look at the success that San Carlos had with outsourcing police and fire. They're flush with money now. Atherton should merge with the Sheriff's Department and ask Redwood for a bid for fire services.

Better yet have on police force and one fire department for the whole county. Think of the savings alone by eliminating all those chiefs jobs.


Posted by Negotiations
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 29, 2020 at 7:24 pm

@PropertyTaxes: yes, it is logical for Atherton to want to pay less for fire services. Two questions:

1. If this maneuver is successful, will residents get to pay less taxes, or does Atherton get more money (to, for example, give to the police)?

2. What about Carpenter‘a arguments that detachment would result in higher costs (or just can’t be done)? All I’ve heard us that we pay too much, with no actual refutation of those specific points (so I tend to assume he is correct). If those points are correct, what’s the point of all of this? If they are not, why is he wrong?


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 29, 2020 at 8:28 pm

" If this maneuver is successful, will residents get to pay less taxes, "

NO. They'll end up having to pay more. The taxes won't go down and they will have to come up with more money to fund their own fire department and associated infrastructure. That's why you don't hear the town saying otherwise.


Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 29, 2020 at 11:11 pm

LAFCO would have to approve the separation. If that were to occur the Town would have to be able to provide comparable service immediately upon separation, which would also have to be approved by LAFCO prior to the separation.

This means that Atherton residents would have to continue to receive the same level of service that they currently receive from at least 5 fire stations in the Fire District.

As I said before, this is grandstanding. With other county fire agencies consolidating, it is seriously doubtful that LAFCO would approve this separation.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jan 30, 2020 at 5:27 am

"1. If this maneuver is successful, will residents get to pay less taxes, or does Atherton get more money (to, for example, give to the police)?

No - the property taxes paid by Atherton residents would not go down by a single penny."

What about Carpenter‘a arguments that detachment would result in higher costs"

1 - Atherton would be obligated to provide the same level of service as is currently provided
by MPFPD

2 - HOWEVER Atherton would only receive from the County's reallocation of property taxes what MPFPD is currently spending to serve Atherton. Thanks to the Atherton Town Council's $50k expenditure on the Matrix study that would be less than $5M.

3 - Providing the same level of service as MPFPD provides would, because of the diseconomies of a very small fire department cost well over $10M. Te difference would have to come from Atherton's budget/tax payers.

Can the Atherton Town Council spell STUPID?


Posted by John Ullom
a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2020 at 12:50 pm

The Union that Carpenter and Chang Kiraly are beholden to tried to impose their top shelf fiscal polices on the Coastside. Firefighters from the Menlo Park Fire Department were dispatched to knock on Coastside doors.

Coastiders were disgusted. We voted 2 to 1 to keep CalFire. We have the best Fire Department in the world. Every bit as good as yours.

Kiraly wants to be a Supervisor. She needs to pretend she is a Democrat. So she forks over all the cash she can to the members of Local 2400 who undoubtedly will work hard to keep the money flowing to them. I know they love the idea of taxpayers paying for the housing Kiraly wants to buy for them. They love getting the most expensive gear, the most expensive benefits, and the highest pay.

Of course most of those Local 2400 types will retire at 55 and move to Idaho or Texas where Firefighters and other Public Servants are paid pretty much the same as the majority of the people they serve.

The cost of paying civil Servants what they think they deserve is going to destroy California. None of them give a damn about it. They just want more. They move when they are done extracting all they can from us.

Coastsiders beat back the greedy Firefighters of Local 2400: -- Web Link

We pay far less and get just as good. You all need to dump Local 2400 and their servants like Kiraly. Fortunately for you, the nasty Peter Carpenter no longer voting to spend your money willy nilly.


Posted by Citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 30, 2020 at 5:34 pm

Commissioner or Director Kiraly will win when Horsely terms out. She has the experience as holding a county wide office. Holding a public safety position on the fire board. 2 elected positions at the same time!! Her Red Cross board position and finally a non profit for schools... “Ring the Bell”.

“Who could ask for anything more”

John Ullom, you are so wrong.... you don’t understand politics in San Mateo County. Also, if you cross her, her buddy the sheriff will be on her side.....a perfect storm.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jan 31, 2020 at 9:56 am

The Town Square is a community service provided by the Almanac to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. It is therefore distressing that after posting dozens of comments with both my personal opinions and a lot of factual information on the Atherton Town Council's so-called "fiscal equity" project that neither a single Atherton Town Council Member or the Town Manager have even attempted to challenge either my opinions or the facts that I have posted.

I would like to think that is because my opinions and facts are irrefutable — but I know that is not always the case.

In my almost 16 years of public service on the Fire Board I never hesitated to respond to any issue raised by the public on the Town Forum. I was better informed about the issues and the facts and more aware of the concerns of the citizens whom I served as a result of participating in those dialogues.

Atherton's silence on the issues that have ben raised is both troubling and telling.

The public would be much better served if our elected and appointed officials engaged in public discourse on these important issues.


Posted by John Ullom
a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2020 at 10:35 am

"John Ullom, you are so wrong...."

I often am.

"...you don’t understand politics in San Mateo County..."

That is an understatement.

"Also, if you cross her..."

Kiraly is not that mean. Come on! I have crossed her a dozen times. She is not as awful as your implied threat.

"...her buddy the sheriff will be on her side.....a perfect storm."

Bolanos is a dirty cop. He and his buddy Munks went to a residential neighborhood much like yours and found themselves at a house of prostitution. Unfortunately for them, they chose to exploit Asian women the same night as the FBI was rounding up human traffickers.

Munks said nothing. Bolanos said nothing. They covered for each other like dirty cops often do. Boloans was rewarded for his 10 year silence with a contrived retirement orchestrated by Don Horsley. Munks and Horlsley made Bolanos an incumbent Sheriff. The lesson is clear for San Mateo Deputies. When it comes to evil done by a cop, "Thou best keep your mouth shut!" There will be a payoff.

Kiraly's buddy, if your pathetic rah rah is true, now claims he is a victim of "Operation Doll House". Not only is Bolanos a dirty cop, he is a whiner: -- Web Link

Wanna read something both sad and comical? Carlos Bolanos, a dirty cop who went to a residential bordello, got busted, kept his mouth shut, and rewarded for doing so, was the keynote speaker at this weeks symposium on........human trafficking. I kid you not: -- Web Link

@ Ms Chang Kiraly. I know you won't use your connections to exact retribution but your friend, "Citizen" is implying horrible things about you.


Posted by Debra
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 7, 2020 at 6:51 pm

My son is a volunteer fireman. He says the Menlo Park Fre Dept has the reputation of being the most desirable fire department in the country to work For in the country. They are the best paid and have big budget for equipment and training Therefore they get the best firefighters. The cream of the crop.
I rather pay more and have the “best of the best” serving my family and my community. My parents had a big house fire in 2000. The service was excellent. Let’s not mess with perfection. Be careful what you wish for. It may be not worth it.


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