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Menlo Park's adopted budget cuts 'to the bone'

Original post made on Jun 24, 2020

With a planned surplus of only $1, the Menlo Park City Council voted Tuesday night, June 23, to finalize an unprecedentedly lean budget to start off the new fiscal year on July 1.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 24, 2020, 11:41 AM

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Comments (20)

1 person likes this
Posted by Adriana Gervasio
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 24, 2020 at 12:46 pm

I am worried about cutting funds to proactive narcotics and gang investigations. And the traffic unit. This is maddening. Instead you should cut in half the salary to those who are just sitting in the office and do nothing. Like yourself and other CEO


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 24, 2020 at 12:56 pm

Sadly this exercise will have to be repeated every three months as the city discovers that the projected revenues will simply not be forthcoming.

What is needed is a much harder zero base budget review that asks what do we absolutely need and are sure we can afford rather than what can we cut hoping our evenues will bounce back.


5 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 24, 2020 at 1:55 pm

Peter: what is more sad is the lack of discussion to defund the police and apply it to the budget discussion to divest that money into community services that are much needed, especially in COVID times. Their unwillingness to look at other sources of revenue or use reserves for specific programs is an embarrassment! More insulting: City Manager wants to use funds for training instead of bringing back services to the community! She should join Bertini. And while we are on the top heavy management subject: why is this just now being discussed? It should have been their first move to slim down unrepresented upper management.


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 24, 2020 at 2:01 pm

"what is more sad is the lack of discussion to defund the police and apply it to the budget discussion to divest that money into community services that are much needed, especially in COVID times. "

That is why zero based budgeting is essential - EVERY city function needs to be evaluated on its own merits starting from zero, not starting from their current funding level.

Zero based budgeting defunds everything including top management and foces each function to justify a new, affordable, fundable budget.


6 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 24, 2020 at 2:09 pm

Didn't the City eliminate one department director position and combine it with another department. I am pretty certain there was a position eliminated in senior management as well. Is anyone checking these facts before making statements about what happened?


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 24, 2020 at 6:58 pm

I was pleasantly surprised to see the police cuts. We have such a huge police force for the size of our city, and with that mobile command center... it just seemed unconscionable to keep those things and cut the childcare centers, for example. Grateful the council did the right thing, though I fear we will have to revisit this exercise sooner than we’d like.


4 people like this
Posted by Martin
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 24, 2020 at 9:22 pm

I'm shocked that a 15% staff cut is 43.5 FTEs! This means we still have 247 FTEs even after these "cuts to the bone". What are all these people working on for our small town, especially now excluding the (presumably at least self-financing) traffic and parking patrols? Maybe we should look at merging with Atherton or Portola Valley, surely there are huge economies of scale in "running" a peninsula town.


5 people like this
Posted by Uhiasiam
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 25, 2020 at 9:03 am

The city is run by Fools. They squandered away the city's money and left citizens looking for answers as to why Crime on the rise all over town!


10 people like this
Posted by Reality
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 25, 2020 at 9:31 am

Budget cuts aren’t even in effect yet and crime is on the rise as a result of them? Yeah that’s believable.


22 people like this
Posted by Jeff Leroux
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 25, 2020 at 12:53 pm

The city - like any other "enterprise" must adapt and evolve. Industries and businesses (large and small) are forced to completely eliminate specific functions due to technology and changing societal expectations. Enterprises create and eliminate functions & entire departments at a breath taking pace these days. City government should be no different.

The MPPD only does what the elected politicians want them to do. If you are unhappy with the MPPD then fire your politicians. To sit and listen to politicians lament police behavior at recent meetings... the whole time they are the ones who control the police - is laughable.

Next time you are the victim of a home invasion, armed robbery, vandalism, shooting et al, I ask you to handle it yourself and see how well you do. If you are going to ask brave young men and women to risk their own lives by rushing to your defense then think in positive terms of how the MPPD and the overall city operations have to evolve to meet the needs of citizens. Stop attacking people - including those first responders who protect us all.

If we want more community services - which are critically important to the long term prevention of crime - then we should "invest" in those services as a community. If you want to have trained individuals ready to respond to fires, car accidents, violent and dangerous crime, then those are worthy investments as well. It is not one or the other. It is a balance. In a nation overrun with guns, drugs, social inequities and violence, it is easy to say "defund" or demilitarize the police when criminals (and citizens) have weapons of war at the ready.

Black lives matter. We honor that commitment with the proper level of engagement, community support and financial resources to ensure we have policing that meets our standards. If that means we have to invest in more pay, better training, advanced resources - regardless of department, then let's commit to the type of city we want.

Invest in the police and provide them with the tools, resources and training they need to accomplish the tasks we assign them. Make sure they have the ability to perform their duties as we want them to. Expect no less and no more than what we ask of them and enable them to do.

Demanding perfection while restricting resources in a world of hyper sensitive political correctness is a recipe for increasing the isolation of police and making the problems they too want fixed, even worse.


15 people like this
Posted by Just the Facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 25, 2020 at 2:31 pm

"Demanding perfection while restricting resources in a world of hyper sensitive political correctness is a recipe for increasing the isolation of police and making the problems they too want fixed, even worse."

Best refutation of the defund the police movement I have heard yet.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 25, 2020 at 2:49 pm

Demanding restructuring of public safety services and reallocating resources in a world of hyper sensitive political correctness is a recipe for improving both the quality of those services and reducing their total costs.


2 people like this
Posted by Jeff Leroux
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 25, 2020 at 4:04 pm

@Peter Carpenter. Thank you for using your name in your posts. That shows character and integrity. It gives your statements real credibility and facilitates respectful debate.

I agree with demanding perfection. We differ only as to the price tag for perfect policing.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 25, 2020 at 4:11 pm

Jeff - I am not and would not demand perfection as perfection is always too expensive.

What I am asking for is a restructuring of public safety services and reallocating resources in a more cost effective manner. Many public safety services do not require a very expensive "badge and a gun".


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 26, 2020 at 8:50 am

If this is "cutting to the bone" what was it in 2008/09?


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jul 5, 2020 at 7:55 am

"CEOs from 500 of America's biggest companies were surveyed in the last two weeks of April 2020. While they were asked a few dozen questions, everything can be boiled down to, "how are you/we dealing with the coronavirus pandemic?"

Of the CEOs interviewed, only 27% expect their workers to return to their offices in full this year. Some of the most stunning responses and insights revolve around economic and technological activities. More than half of responders believe 2022 will be the first time we see economic activity return to pre-pandemic levels. Another quarter don't think we'll get there until 2023."

*******
The city revenue shortfall will be greater and longer than currently assumed. The council needs to quit its piecemeal approach to restructuring the city's budget. It is time for zero base budgeting,


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jul 21, 2020 at 4:39 pm

Mercury News:

"Office markets in the South Bay, East Bay and Peninsula turned sluggish and posted their weakest leasing performances in years during the second quarter of this year amid coronavirus-linked business shutdowns, according to separate reports from Colliers International.

The leasing activity for office space was so slow in the April-through-June period that space became vacant at a much faster pace than it was rented in Silicon Valley, the Oakland area of the East Bay and San Mateo County, reports from commercial real estate firm Colliers showed."

******

Dear City Council - you have a big, long term revenue proble. Quit making 90 day piecemeal reductions to your budget and instead do a zero based budget with realistic revenue assumptions.


Like this comment
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jul 25, 2020 at 1:45 pm

I wouldn’t overly fret. When I looked at the Council’s revenue projections, it seemed to me that a fair amount of sandbagging was already built in.

The County Assessor's 2020-2021 Rolls announcement just showed 9.22% growth in Menlo Park’s assessed values — therefore its direct property tax revenue share.

Furthermore, the city’s annual $2.5 million of Excess ERAF (educational revenue funding) will continue to mushroom this year, given the county’s overall 7.02% growth rate in the face of a flat school funding formula. While it rather sounds like $0.26 million of this will be reclaimed (the LAO discovered that counties were stiffing charter schools and other stuff), that’s a drop in the bucket compared with growth.

One wrinkle in the ointment could lie in the city's share of school property tax taken ‘in lieu of' the state’s vehicle license fee sharing obligation. San Mateo County became an “insufficient ERAF” county last year. This means that cities and the county get to take everything left in the ERAF account (after ‘excess’ ERAF is removed) plus every penny of property tax allocated to non-basic aid schools (Ravenswood, Pacifica, Jefferson Elementary in Daly City, etc.) — but will still be owed a bit more since this obligation was tied to property tax growth in 2004, not actual vehicle sales. Getting it requires filing a claim with the state that should, but may not, be paid in a couple of years.

Happily, Ravenswood’s property tax base grew 12.45% this year — significantly increasing the pot that will be taken away. So while Ravenswood won’t see any of it (indeed, they will face months of deferred state aid and will have to go out and borrow), I think it’s fair to suggest that Menlo Park will see growth of at least the county average of 7% — and probably closer to 9% — in last year's $27 million of property tax revenue.

The recently announced roll data for the city is here — use the contacts at the top of the press release to get the school district data:
Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jul 25, 2020 at 2:53 pm

The city's revenue problem is not with property taxes but with the other 45% of its revenue which comes from sales and hotel occupancy taxes.


Like this comment
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jul 25, 2020 at 6:01 pm

I am sorry, Peter. Given the content of your post -- highlighting observations from Colliers commercial real-estate newsletters , I assumed it was property taxes you were worried about.


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