Town Square

Post a New Topic

Atherton outsourcing bids show 'substantial' savings

Original post made on Jul 1, 2011

As 12 town employees watch the clock tick forward toward the July 15 elimination of their jobs, union representatives, town negotiators, and a state mediator plan to meet on July 5 to discuss proposed employee concessions and private companies' bids to take over Atherton's building and public works services -- bids the town's manager has called "really good and very aggressive."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 1, 2011, 4:54 PM

Comments (20)

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 1, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Dudley states:"the current $750 annual parcel tax would have to be raised by $350 a year to eliminate the structural deficit in the budget,"

While an additional $350 this year would eliminate this year's deficit it would take an additional $350 next year and an additional $350 each subsequent year to eliminate the STRUCTURAL deficit. I seriously doubt that even 25% of the voters would support a total parcel tax approaching $2000 per year.

The only way to eliminate a structural deficit is to make permanent reductions in expenses and labor costs are 75% of the Town's ongoing costs.

Posted by Please explain
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 1, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Peter please explain how Atherton can eliminate its structural deficit without addressing police costs. Is it realistic or fair to assume all the cost savings can be put onto these 12 employees? And if it is true most Atherton residents don't want to outsource police, why is it that we can't get lower cost police services in terms of salary and pension?

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 1, 2011 at 11:29 pm

"Peter please explain how Atherton can eliminate its structural deficit without addressing police costs"

It can't.

Posted by parkpolice
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 2, 2011 at 5:43 am

Last fiscal year Holbrook Palmer Park consumed close to one million dollars from the town budget (some sourced from illegally drawing from the parcel tax fund) and the preceeding three years the expenditures were around $350,000 each year. Parcel tax should not have gone for park uses.
What might be a good question to ask yourself and others is if you want pay for a public park that the whole of the peninsula uses or do you want to pay for your own police department. Do you want a defibulator arriving at your door in two or three minutes in the hands of a Atherton officer or do you want to drive by the park and look at the family picnics? Parks are the first thing on the chopping block in the state and county-wide and the least needed for health and welfare(ie Flood Park).Libraries also take a hit but somehow Atherton is considering building a new library in its only park. What is wrong with that picture?
Holbrook Palmer does not support itself, ends up being largely for the benefit of non-residents and adds nothing to the safety and security of residents or property values.
As the late Leroy Hubbard said, "all of Atherton is a park." and consideration should be given to letting it go. Goes to Stanford by default.

Posted by Eden is Burning
a resident of another community
on Jul 2, 2011 at 7:22 am

Atherton is different. It is a pocket of wealth on the peninsula which defies the trends of its surrounding communities. Dudley and Janz are in touch with the pulse of the community; the Council is not.

To wit, the San Mateo County Asssessor's Office has announced the secured property tax rolls for 2011. Atherton's properties increased by over $195 million! That's an increase of 3.17%. It was the only community in San Mateo County to achieve such growth.

Web Link

That should help the Town's coffers. But I doubt it will alter the Town's determination to shoot the loyal employees which helped build the environment which allowed it.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 2, 2011 at 8:12 am

The just announced 2011-12 Secured Property Tax Roll for Atherton is certainly good news.

However, the increased property tax income does not get paid to the County until December (1/2) and April (1/2) and is disbursed to the Town after those date so the additional cash available to the Town for actually operating in 2011-12 will be somewhat less than the amount of the increase from the change in the assessed property values. Just as in our personal budgets it would be imprudent to spend expected future income until that cash is in hand.

Posted by Please explain
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 2, 2011 at 8:24 am

While many Atherton properties have "park-like" grounds of one acre, they fall well short of being a park based on the inability to have community socialization. Many of us find this important.

Notions like eliminating the park or library to keep funding the police are extreme views that can only be coming from police officers themselves or their families. Before the town made any drastic measures about the library or the park, it seems to me it would have to at least attempt to reign in spending at the police department through dramatic salary and benefit cuts as are being done with the 12 other employees.

II think a defibulator can arrive at my home by someone paid less than $100,000 per year. I think that defibulator can be set up and administered by someone with less than a 90% pension at age 50, and someone whose own health benefit plan is not dramatically better than my own.

Don't you?

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 2, 2011 at 8:53 am

Please explain:

I think you could purchase a defibrulator and have everyone trained in your household in its use for less than the increases in parcel taxes required to keep your own police department. In fact, it could probably be part of the contract with the Sheriff's Dept. if you outsourced your police department at a savings of about $2 million per year. You might actually be able to eliminate your parcel tax if you outsource.

Posted by Please explain
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 2, 2011 at 8:55 am

On the subject of Atherton taxpayer dollars being used extrinsically for Atherton, how to explain the following entry in last night's police log? What are Atherton officers doing in East Palo Alto?!? My guess: Atherton officers are trying to generate as many arrests and activity as possible so when outsourcing/cutbacks come up, they can point to the high rate of crime and activity to justify none can possibly be made.

18:33 WARRANT ARREST 110701036
Officer initiated activity on 2000 blk of Cooley Ave, East Palo Alto. GTF case: Subject XXX dob 4/7/90 o/o Mountain View arrested and booked in to County Jail for outstanding Palo Alto $100,000 warrant for 459pc.
Disposition: Arrest Made.

Posted by Eden is Burning
a resident of another community
on Jul 2, 2011 at 9:13 am

Menlo Voter is right. The parcel tax would be a non-issue if the PD were outsourced. Without the PD, there would be no need for a parcel tax.

I just looked through the budget which the Town tentatively approved. The PD is projected to spend $5.12 million in FY2011-12. That's approximately the same amount the Town's spent on the PD since FY2008-9.

This Council's direction is outsourcing. That's pretty clear! It's fathomable the Town is getting a back channel quote on outsourcing from the Sheriff. As you've said so many times, it only make sense to ask.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 2, 2011 at 10:05 am

I estimate that Atherton could save at least $2 million annually by outsourcing police services AND have better quality of services. The Town could specify the level of services it desires and even adding $50 per capita to the Woodside cost would still save over $300 per capita.

Agencies which have their own Police Department:

As of the census of 2000, there were
7,194 people
4.9 square miles (12.8 km²)
Police budget $4.9 M
$681 per capita

Redwood City
As of the census[1] of 2008, there were
75,508 people
34.6 sq miles
Police budget $31.7 M
$419 per capita

Palo Alto
As of the census of 2000, there were 58,598
23.7 sq miles
Police budget $29M
$494 per capita

Foster City
As of the census of 2000, there are 28,803
The city has a total area of 19.9 square
miles (51.6 km²), of which 3.8 square miles
(9.7 km²) is land and 16.2 square miles
(41.9 km²) is water.
Police budget $9.6 M
$333 per capita

As of the census of 2000, there were 28,158
The city has a total area of 15.6 km² (6.0 mi²).
11.2 km² (4.3 mi²) of it is land and 4.4 km²
(1.7 mi²) of it (28.19%) is water.
Police budget $9.5M
$337 per capita

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were
10,825 people
The town has a total area of 6.2 square miles
(16.1 km²), all of it land.
Police budget $8M
$739 per capita

Los Altos
The population was 27,693 according to the
2000 census.
6.3 square miles (16.4 km²).
Police dept budget $13.46 M
$485 per capita

Menlo Park
As of the census of 2000, there were 30,785
17.4 square miles (45 km2), of which
10.1 square miles (26 km2) is land
and 7.3 square miles (19 km2) is water.
Police services budget $14.69 M
$477.148 per capita

East Palo Alto
As of the census of 2009, there were 35,791 people,
2.6 square miles (6.7 km²), of which 2.5 square miles (6.6 km²) are land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.78%) are water.
Police budget $10,262,651
$287 per capita

Agencies which contract out their police services:

The population was 30,318 at the 2007 census.
The city has a total area of 21.1 square miles
(31.4 km²)
Police costs via County Sheriff $4.34 M
$143 per capita

11.8 square miles (30.5 km²)
As of the census of 2000, there were
5,352 people
Police services via County Sheriff $1.3 M
$242 per capita

Portola Valley
The population was 4,462 at the 2000 census
9.2 square miles (23.7 km²)
Police services via Sheriff $498,601
$111 per capita

San Carlos
The population was 27.238 in 2008
5.93 square miles
Police services via proposed Sheriff's contract
$6.8 M
$248.62 per capita

Posted by Eden is Burning
a resident of another community
on Jul 2, 2011 at 10:14 am

Mr. Carpenter, you're right on target. Those per capita numbers do tell the story. I guess if you post them often enough, they eventually become gospel.

The Council should get the RFP published ASAP. Is it too late to get it on the July agenda? Just as they've done with the other 12 employees, they need to act ... without input from the electorate.

Full steam ahead!

Posted by Please explain
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 3, 2011 at 8:42 am

More examples of Atherton cops helping out in other cities yesterday. If this is okay, why shut down a park because non-Athertonians can also go there? [Portion deleted.]

Occurred at Bbc on El Camino Real. , Menlo Park. Bar closing, requesting to circulate the area. Disposition: Outside Assist.

Officer initiated activity at El Camino Real/Dumbarton Av, Redwood City.RWCPD advised of 1182 Red PU and White PU. ETA 5. Disposition: Outside Assist.

I'm still waiting for Eden is Burning to explain why Atherton police salaries and benefits being reduced is bad for the taxpayers of Atherton. I know they've got their outsourcing story down, but I'm waiting for the argument on why salaries and benefits can't be touched. I know they want to avoid this topic, obviously, but it's going to have to come up.

Posted by Please explain
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 3, 2011 at 8:44 am

Oh I just figured it out! If outsourcing is off the table, so are salary and benefit reductions, since the town then has no negotiating leverage or alternatives. Smart!

Posted by henry
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 5, 2011 at 12:28 pm

The cost of maintainting staff enrolled in CalPERS (California Public Employees Retirement Service)will be HIGHER than it currently is now.

This is (1)Because CalPERS is seriously underfunded and (2)because the Government Accounting Standards Bureau (GASB)will set standards that force CalPERS to realistically project future growth--not overstate it as it does now.

My point is that when the cost of outsourcing is compared to the cost of maintaing inhouse staff, FUTURE retirement costs must be considered.

Posted by Atherton resident
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 5, 2011 at 1:55 pm

If you have proof of "(some sourced from illegally drawing from the parcel tax fund)" please provide it. From my experience the park charges for all private events, even picnics for large groups.
Nice try on the scare tactic for delays getting a defibulator. A better comment would be for the Atherton PD to figure out how to start reducing personnel costs. That business model is on life support.
To Mr. Dudley, keep your hands out of my wallet. If you can not afford to pay for the services in town start to figure out what to cut; do not plan on more taxes.

Posted by Henry Riggs
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 5, 2011 at 2:55 pm

The city "leaders" in SF last week folded to union pressure when asked to control employee costs; it looks so far like the Atherton town council has more integrity. Will be interesting to see. Below are Matier & Ross comments on SF supervisors.

In the wee hours: Call it a philosophical difference or union muscle - whatever the case, the passage of the city's budget by a key supervisors committee in the wee hours of Friday morning came down to the mayor's call to contract out security at San Francisco General and Laguna Honda hospitals.

Mayor Ed Lee and his chief of staff, Steve Kawa, dug in their heels on their call to save $3.3 million by having the work go private. Although none of the city security officers at the hospitals would lose their jobs, contracting out has long been a litmus test for the Service Employees International Union, which represents city employees.

An early read of the supervisors' budget committee showed the vote would be close. But as the evening wore on, it became clear that union peace and the desire for a "consensus" vote - i.e., neither Supervisors David Chiu nor Jane Kim would go for Lee's plan - outweighed the financial considerations.

Hence, the panel OKd the budget and sent it along to the full board WITHOUT the mayor's outsourcing plan.

Posted by gunste
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 5, 2011 at 6:05 pm

It seems to me, that any time that a profit making private entity can provide a service for less than a government entity, which does not have to show a return on investment, there is something wrong.
Either its is inefficient management, labor costs or pension and benefit costs.
Decades ago, government work paid a bit less than the private sector, because there was great permanence of employment. That changed over time with government employee unions exerting pressure, and elected officials spending other people's money.
It also happened in the auto industry,which eventually went broke by being weighed down by unfunded obligations. In the case of government, it is the taxpayers who have to pick up the tab.
It has happened at all levels of government, and we see the result in our national debt, the California budget problem and indebtedness.
Vallejo went belly up and there are lots of places with the same problem.

Posted by Jimmy Hoffa
a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Interesting article in the LA Times about the situation in Costa Mesa, ground zero for the war on pubic sector employees:

Web Link

Of note:

Apparently, there's an injunction against the city preventing the mass layoffs and outsourcing.

Gem in the article:

"They won't [pull back the layoff notices]," Berardino had predicted, "because this isn't about the budget for them. It's about politics." And it's about what Berardino sees as Righeimer's years-long attempt, including two failed statewide initiatives, to crush public employee unions.

Berardino was right. Righeimer told me he doesn't intend to reconsider mass layoffs until he gets bids on the cost of outsourcing the jobs of city employees.

Posted by Henry Riggs
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 6, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Some may paint this as a battle against public sector employees, but it's not. Although the SEIU may have bargained its members beyond the pay scales and work rules of the real world, the big issue is the wild pension promises made in the last decade by our elected officials. The very employees whose unions egg them on to feel "threatened" are at risk of losing their retirement to mass municipal bankruptcies if the broken system doesn't get fixed. It's not personal, i'ts simple accounting - pyramid schemes just don't work.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

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

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Almanac Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

My Holiday Wish List for Menlo Park
By Dana Hendrickson | 1 comment | 3,265 views

Burning just one "old style" light bulb can cost $150 or more per year
By Sherry Listgarten | 12 comments | 3,093 views

Banning the public from PA City Hall
By Diana Diamond | 27 comments | 2,247 views

Pacifica’s first brewery closes its doors
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 1,993 views

Holiday Fun in San Francisco- Take the Walking Tour for An Evening of Sparkle!
By Laura Stec | 8 comments | 1,712 views


Support local families in need

Your contribution to the Holiday Fund will go directly to nonprofits supporting local families and children in need. Last year, Almanac readers and foundations contributed over $300,000.