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Fire services, new Menlo College housing project on Atherton council agenda

Original post made on Feb 19, 2020

There are several notable items on Atherton City Council's Wednesday, Feb. 19, agenda, including reviews of a townwide publication on fire service costs and a proposal for a new three-story residence hall.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 19, 2020, 10:53 AM

Comments (11)

Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 19, 2020 at 12:16 pm

The Town leaders just won't let this fire issue go; they are the only ones driving it. There aren't lots of residents clamoring to disengage from the Fire District.

LAFCO is not in favor of the separation or disengagement. So if the agency that regulates the process doesn't favor it, that should say something.

If the Town were to disengage from Menlo Fire, the Town would have to have a comparable service in place ready to go so that there would be no disruption of service. This means fire stations, personnel, and apparatus. Given Atherton's budget concerns, I don't see that happening.

Time for Town leaders to let it go and move on!


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 19, 2020 at 1:44 pm

In pursuit of the Atherton Town Council’s plans to attempt to detach from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, thereby dramatically reducing the revenues and services of the non-Atherton residents of the Fire District, the Town Council intends to hold two “community information meetings” to which it intends to only invite Atherton residents.

"To learn more about this issue and the Town’s intended next steps, please attend one of the upcoming information sessions.
Tuesday, March 10 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm Main House @ Holbrook-Palmer Wednesday,
March 11 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm Main House @ Holbrook-Palmer "

In all of its discussions of “fiscal equity” over the last five years the Town Council or the Town Manager have never uttered a single word about the impact of their proposed “fiscal equity” actions on the residents of the less well off communities from which they propose to take away property tax revenues.
Were Atherton to be successful in detaching from the Fire District it would lose almost 30% of its revenues and would be forced to close at least two fire stations and eliminate 4 of its 11 response units. These reductions would have a huge impact on your community.
All the selected officials who represent the other almost 90,000 residents of the Fire District should demand that Atherton invite ALL impacted residents and their elected officials to these meetings.

Peter F. Carpenter
Former Director MPFPD 2002-2018
Former President Atherton Civic Interest League
Former Atherton Resident 1982-2018
Current Menlo Park resident
“All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.”


Posted by Obvious
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 20, 2020 at 8:54 am

I think this would all go away if the fire district changed their name to Atherton Fire and bought naming rights to the Town Center.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 20, 2020 at 1:41 pm

" $500K is now below average income in Atherton"

And this is the Town Council that wants to steal $13 million in property tax revenues from the residents of East Palo Alto and Menlo Park!

Web Link


Posted by Maybe…
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 20, 2020 at 5:32 pm

Maybe the Fire District should try to make an accommodation to Atherton so this can be resolved peacefully.

The way I view it, the Atherton council members represent Atherton residents. Their duty is to get the best deal for Atherton.

8% of the district paying 32% of the expenses. Peter points out, rightfully so, that there are more extreme examples of fiscal inequity. Top 1% of income in the U.S. pays more than 50% of the taxes.

But that doesn't mean that if Atherton can do something about this, it shouldn't.

This situation cries out for a compromise, but the fire district has been very resolute that it will not bargain with Atherton. Just wondering if this is the smart/best approach.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 20, 2020 at 8:14 pm

"The way I view it, the Atherton council members represent Atherton residents. Their duty is to get the best deal for Atherton."

Wrong. The Atherton residents elected the Town Council to run the Town - Period.

The Atherton residents elected the Fire Board, the School Boards, the County Supervisors, their State and Federal representatives to run those agencies. These are all separate and independent from the Town government.

The Town Council has no responsibility for these other agencies nor does it represent Atherton residents in those residents relationship with those agencies


Posted by Huh?
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 21, 2020 at 7:46 am

"The Town Council [does not] represent Atherton residents in those residents relationship with those agencies."

Huh? Says who? I don't know why this would be the case. I vote for the California governor, the SMC supervisor, the Atherton town council, and also the U.S. president, but the California government negotiates and deals with the county, the town, and the U.S. government.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 21, 2020 at 8:02 am

""The Town Council [does not] represent Atherton residents in those residents relationship with those agencies."

Huh? Says who? I don't know why this would be the case."

Simple - read their Town Charter. There is NO mention of the Town Council representing the Town residents in those residents affairs with other agencies having their own elected bodies. The current Town Council has illegally asserted such authority where none exists.

And:
3.04.010 Transfer of duties to county.
Pursuant to that certain act of the legislature of the state of California entitled “an Act to provide for the levy and collection of taxes by and for the use of municipal corporations and cities incorporated under the laws of the state, except municipal corporations of the first class, and to provide for the consolidation and abolition of certain municipal offices, and to provide that their duties may be performed by certain officers of the county, and fixing the compensation to be allowed for such county officers for the services so rendered to such municipal corporations,” approved March 27, 1895, and the acts amendatory thereof, the city council elects, and in and by the ordinance codified in this chapter, that the duties of assessing property and collecting taxes provided by law to be performed by the assessor and the tax collector shall be performed by the county assessor and the county tax collector; and the taxes shall be so collected by the county assessor and the county tax collector at the same time and in the manner county taxes are collected. (Ord. 417 § 4, 1985; Ord. 329 § 12, 1974; Ord. 30 § 1, 1924)


Posted by Obvious
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 21, 2020 at 8:32 am

ARAF stands for Atherton Revenue Augmentation Fund. Here is a short explanation of ARAF:

In 2019, the Town of Atherton found itself in a serious deficit position. To meet its obligations, the Town of Atherton enacted legislation that shifted partial financial responsibility for funding Town operations to the Menlo Park Fire District. The Town of Atherton did this by instructing LAFCO to shift the allocation of local property tax revenues from the Menlo Park Fire District to “Atherton revenue augmentation funds” (ARAFs), directing that specified amounts of Menlo Fire district taxes be deposited into these funds to support Atherton's construction project.


Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 21, 2020 at 10:13 pm

While it is true that residents elect their council reps, I doubt that that many residents are keeping up with this issue.

Neither the Town nor the FD set the percentages of funding, nor do either have the ability to change it. Much in the same way the ERAF (Education Reimbursement Augmentation Fund) is deducted from both the Town and FD. ERAF is a supplement for the schools, and neither the Town nor the FD can change that percentage either.

Why is the Town only picking on the FD; maybe it should go after all the agencies that are disproportionately "taking" money from residents.

OR is there a bigger issue here and "attacking" the FD is just deflecting from something else.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 21, 2020 at 10:21 pm

"OR is there a bigger issue here and "attacking" the FD is just deflecting from something else."

Bingo!

With its incredible commitment to a police department that costs twice as much per capita as any surrounding jurisdiction and a new Town Center that costs four times as much per capita as any surrounding jurisdiction's administrative offices the Town is living well beyond its means.

So it is looking everywhere to find new revenues. Fire District, naming rights, etc.


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