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Menlo Park Mayor Nicholas Jellins learns of “larger than expected budget surplus"

Original post made by Richard Hine, editor of The Almanac, on Oct 27, 2006

Below is an Oct. 26 press release from Menlo Park Mayor Nicholas Jellins. In addition to the surplus, he says: "… we recently identified a currently unfunded retiree healthcare liability of approximately $13 million."

OCTOBER 26, 2006
I issue this press release because new information has become available from City staff that I believe the voters should know prior to voting for or against Measure K -- the Utility Users Tax.
Following the end of the City’s most recent fiscal year on June 30, 2006, and while in the normal process of preparing its year end accounting, I have learned that the City will have a larger than forecast budget surplus. This surplus is due to a variety of factors, including the outsourcing of Burgess Pool and other operating efficiencies, a number of staff vacancies, and higher than expected revenues. While the exact magnitude of the surplus will not be known until staff completes the audit, staff believes that it will be in excess of $1.3 million, or at least $1 million more than originally forecast.
City staff are now in the process of determining how this surplus will impact our forecast budget deficit of $1.85 million in Fiscal Year 2007. Some of the ongoing cost savings, such as the Burgess Pool operations, have already been factored into the approved 2007 budget. Others, such as the staff vacancies, are not necessarily expected to continue throughout the remainder of the fiscal year. On the revenue side, this will be the third consecutive year of higher than forecast revenue growth. Staff will review each revenue category to determine how much of the additional revenue growth may be recurring. The results of this process will not be known until the mid-year financial review. However, if local economic conditions continue to improve, there may be a reduction in the deficit for Fiscal Year 2007.
I want to caution that the City still faces a number of long-term fiscal challenges. As our workforce ages and retirees live longer, we are experiencing a steady increase in employee compensation costs. The City is also in the midst of ongoing labor negotiations with three of its four employee unions. Depending upon the outcome of those negotiations, the City may have to set aside substantially more reserves in order to fund pension obligations. Furthermore, we recently identified a currently unfunded retiree healthcare liability of approximately $13 million.
The Utility Users Tax would provide the City with an additional source of stable revenues unaffected by economic conditions that are largely out of our control. Such revenue potentially would give the City increased flexibility to provide the kinds of programs that the citizens of Menlo Park desire. I therefore continue to support Measure K -- the Utility Users Tax.

(Questions on this Press Release may be directed to Nicholas Jellins at (650) 329-1300.)

Comments (4)

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Posted by Paul Collacchi
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 27, 2006 at 9:54 am


According to the same reports released by finance director, Carol Augustine, to city council members, (I got mine from a council member), fiscal year sales taxes for 2006 are DOWN by 3.86% from FY2005, and at $5.7M are now below $6M per year, setting them back to levels last seen in 1993.

Menlo Park’s structural revenue problems are not being addressed. There is no recovery in sight. The elimination of Menlo Park’s sales tax based was predicted by a former council, in 1999, and is described more fully here [Web Link]

The selective release of fragmented, mis-stated, and incomplete financial data, favorable to positions and policies advocated by the Council majority of my former colleagues, Mickie Winkler, Lee Duboc, and Nicholas Jellins is one of the most troubling aspects of their governance.

Paul Collacchi
Council Member 96-04
Mayor, 1999

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Posted by Disgusted resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 27, 2006 at 11:33 am

Gee, maybe with the extra $1 million, the city can hire a competent finance director.

Oh, and Mr. Jellins? I think the impact of an extra $1 million on a $1.8 million structural deficit is that the structural deficit will be reduced by $1 million. I know basic math seems to elude both Menlo Park staff and the council majority (especially Trickie Mickie), so perhaps they could use $5 of that surplus to buy a calculator.

$1.8 million - $1 million = $800,000.

I can't believe the level of incompetence and political chicanery going on in Menlo Park these days. There's no way the previous finance director would have overlooked $1 million in revenues from the previous fiscal year.

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Posted by Check Figures
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 27, 2006 at 12:27 pm

DISGUSTED: Actually, it's a little more complicated than that. A one-time $1 million surplus may reduce the draw on reserves in the following fiscal year, but is no guarantee of a permanent $1 million reduction in the STRUCTURAL deficit.

It is weird that it's taken this long to find this extra $1 million from the fiscal year that ended June 30. That's four months ago! And to get this news just before the election, on top of the news about the GM auto mall, and the expansion of Stanford Park Hotel. You don't think any of this has anything to do with the election, do you?

MR. JELLINS: Please explain why it's taken so long to find this extra $1 million in the town treasury.

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Posted by Gern Blanston
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 27, 2006 at 12:55 pm

I, personally, would like to thank Mayor Jellins and councilmembers Winkler and Duboc for wrangling the price of gasoline to less than $3/gallon. Without their hard work and financial savvy I have no doubt Menlo Park (and the nation) might be paying $5 or more. I eagerly await the press release outlining how this was accomplished.


P.S. November 7th is payday.

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