Last Tuesday, a lone Menlo Park councilman questioned whether our city was in a position to grant bonus pay to about a hundred temporary Union workers who just got a (small) raise. The point was not whether another $25,000/year commitment is a budget breaker (Heyward Robinson called that amount "inconsequential") but whether it's consistent with a city facing imminent new commitments at the same time as a shrinking income. That seemed pretty real, but no other council member thought fiscal restraint was due Tuesday.
What's troubling is that anyone in business knows we're in for a couple of very tough years for local government. In Menlo, we will lose additional business license, permit fees and sales tax income; the state will take part of our Redevelopment Reserves; we will likely again prop up the employee retirement system due to huge losses by CALPERS; and we haven't funded phase II of our critical El Camino/Downtown Vision. Meanwhile our current budget already projects a $1 million deficit.
So, if you knew your family income would start stepping down next month, and the furnace broke down, would you still be charging as casually on the credit card?
We need more than one lonely voice speaking honestly to what's coming. By next year - in a recession - this council will vote 4:1 to boost the UUT, burdening business as well as resident, over controlling expenses. Respectfully, we need a new voice with some solid business experience on council, and we need it soon.