Yet in spite of all these factors when you look at the budgets which the Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton Councils are getting ready to approve there is literally no significant change from prior years - it is business as usual. All of these cities are simply trimming a bit here and tweaking a bit there but none of them are stepping back and even attempting to make the fundamental structural changes that might give them a chance to have balanced budgets for both next year and for the longer term. None of these cities are looking at consolidation of services with each other or with other jurisdictions. Police consolidation alone could save millions of dollar both next year and every year thereafter - and Palo Alto probably wouldn't need a new police station. If Palo Alto were to consolidate its fire services with the Menlo Park Fire Protection District then both entities would save millions. Why not have shared services for purchasing, human resources and public works with one of the entities taking the lead on each.
How can we citizens convince our elected officials that we are in a financial crisis and that business as usual simply won't work? How do we convince them to do a zero based budget where there are no pet projects and the only things which get funded are the things which are essential. How do we convince them that continuing to amass deficits (particularly when you add in unfunded pension liabilities) is irresponsible?
Do the citizen even care?