Town Square

Post a New Topic

Menlo Park: City reveals $141.6 million spending plan

Original post made on Jun 5, 2018

Two new hotels in town and ever-rising property tax revenues promise a rosy fiscal year starting in July, according to the city of Menlo Park's financial team. The council is scheduled to host its first discussion of the budget Tuesday, June 5, at its meeting scheduled for 7 p.m.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, June 5, 2018, 10:00 AM

Comments (7)

Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 5, 2018 at 11:36 am

Facebook should pay for the full cost of city staff that work on its projects including benefits and retirement costs. Additionally since at some point these projects will end there should be termination clauses in the staff employment contracts to make sure staffing costs end.

Posted by lnon
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 5, 2018 at 12:31 pm

How does the Council justify a 17% increase in personnel in 2 years? I'm sure that the city government could come up with 100 more ways to spend our money, but we need to draw the line at some point. I say that until we either 1)fully fund our city retirement fund liabilities or 2) change the grossly outdated retirement system to a defined contribution fund (matching IRA or something like it) that we pursue NO NEW projects that consume our tax money. It seems that no matter how much money we take in, and believe me, it is increasing every year, the City figures out a way to overspend, outgrow, and still plead for more revenue. Enough is enough!!

Posted by Steve Taffee
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 5, 2018 at 1:07 pm

While modest spending increases are called for, it is also prudent to place some of this revenue into a rainy day fund as a hedge against future shortfalls and the inevitable additional costs associated with recovery from sudden disasters such as wildfire or earthquakes, or the slow and steady disasters caused by rising ocean levels. There is also aging infrastructure to maintain. A twenty-year plan that accounts for such things would suggest that each and every spending increase be individually justified and weighed against future needs.

steve taffee

Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 6, 2018 at 10:41 am

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

Whatever, Inon and Steve -- I encourage you to also write Council via I agree with Steve that MP needs to do long-range strategic planning, which is considered a municipal best practice. Having a long-term strategic plan would cut down on the too often reactivity and shifting priorities that we see in MP. We might even be able to save money due to thinking ahead and anticipating needs and preparing for them before they become emergencies. I would also like to see measurable goals and outcomes for government's performance put into our budget documents, like they have in the City of Baltimore. Our neighbor Palo Alto has a 30-year Comprehensive plan that is startling in its focus on residents. Web Link Palo Alto also annually prepares two budget documents: a proposed Operating Budget and a Proposed Capital Budget. I've closely studied the PA Capital document and I especially like the Project Pages. Web Link I consider PA's budget documents a best practice and I've proposed using a similar "project pages" template in MP to our Finance and Audit Committee where the idea was well received. To Inon's comment, some members of the F&A Committee are also very concerned about unfunded pension liabilities. Our local democracy needs informed residents who get involved, ask questions, share concerns and suggest different ways of doing things based on best practices elsewhere. I'm told that it's most impactful when one attends a Council meeting but emails (especially sent at least 2 days before a meeting) are helpful too. Please also consider applying to serve on a MP Committee/Commission the next time there are openings.

Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 6, 2018 at 10:47 am

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

Meant to include the link to the City of Baltimore's Outcome-based Budgeting. Web Link which is considered an innovative best practice for other local governments. Another innovation is Participatory Budgeting, a democratic process where members of the public directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. Web Link Implementing both innovations in MP would strengthen the residents' role in our local democracy and lead to a city that worked better across all our communities.

Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 6, 2018 at 1:46 pm

Almanac comments and articles should be required reading for all city council members, city manager, police chief, city attorney and all city department heads.

Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 7, 2018 at 8:20 am

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

To Whatever -- I suspect that at least some on your list read the comments but they can ignore what they don't like or don't agree with. It's better to have a public record of the feedback as that might make its way into staff reports and/or influence Council decisions. Other people reading/hearing the public input have more courage to speak out too -- because they know that they are not alone with their concerns. I also write council/staff and make public comments at meetings. Anyone may read the public emails at the City Council email log. Web Link I recently wrote on the topic of the need for bias-free staff reports and a preliminary one on the budget. I will be writing again on the topic of the budget. I'm also working on the broader issue of the need for a significantly improved public engagement process. The residents need a much stronger role in our local government's decision-making process. Increased resident involvement is bringing more transparency, oversight and accountability -- but even more is needed. I agree with Mayor Pro Tem Mueller's request that Council discuss a Sunshine Ordinance. The Brown Act is the floor for open, public meetings, not the ceiling.

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.

Boichik Bagels is opening its newest – and largest – location in Santa Clara this week
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 2,541 views

I Do I Don't: How to build a better marriage Page 15
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,070 views

By Laura Stec | 8 comments | 975 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.