News

Menlo Park council OKs $76 million budget

Delays decision on staff salaries, red-light cameras

The city of Menlo Park raided its sofa and found some pocket change, bumping up its projected 2013-14 fiscal year budget by approximately $400,000.

The extra money, found by recalculating the balance of a "debt service" fund, gave the city a $75.9 million spending plan for operations and capital projects, which the City Council approved 5-0 on June 11.

Described by City Manager Alex McIntyre as basically a "status quo" balanced budget, the plan will nevertheless enable Menlo Park to restore some basic services, including reopening the public library on holiday weekends.

The city projects $42.5 million in revenues for its general fund during the next fiscal year starting July 1 3.8 percent higher than last year thanks to increased property taxes, funding related to Facebook, and the new 12 percent hotel tax. With anticipated general fund spending of $42.3 million, a surplus of $202,000 is expected.

The council opted to leave the utility users tax at 1 percent.

Red-light cameras

While Mr. McIntyre's initial budget proposal in May suggested that the council consider adding a fifth Redflex red-light camera, to be installed at the intersection of Bayfront Expressway and Chilco Street, the council instead decided to extend the contract for the city's current cameras for 60 days past its July 2 expiration date, postponing any other actions until staff completes an analysis that will include accident rates before and after the cameras were installed, cost recovery for the program, and changes to state law.

Councilwoman Catherine Carlton asked whether the city could just shut the cameras off pending the data review. City Attorney Bill McClure said that would necessitate running through months of public noticing again should Menlo Park decide to keep its red-light camera program

Other local cities, such as Belmont, Redwood City, Hayward and San Carlos, have canceled their Redflex contracts entirely.

"I hope that when we review this, we also look at why these cities canceled," Ms. Carlton said.

Staff salaries

The budget approval process hit a snag when it came to Mr. McIntyre's request to implement new salary ranges for city staff.

The ranges, which are supposed to be updated annually, have not been adjusted since 2007. As a result the ranges don't reflect current market rates. Assistant City Manager Starla Jerome Robinson, for example, had been hired in late 2008 at approximately $187,000, although the 2007 salary cap for that position is $159,492.

However, council members thought the proposed changes were given to them too late to allow for public review and their own analysis.

"There's no way I'm voting on this tonight," Councilman Rich Cline said.

Mr. McIntyre agreed to bring the matter back to the council after taking some time to "better bake" the presentation of the request.

Comments

There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Flirtation
By Chandrama Anderson | 4 comments | 1,560 views

King of the Slides
By Cheryl Bac | 4 comments | 1,201 views

Standardized Test Prep: When to Start and Whom to Hire?
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 899 views

Finger Food and a Blood Lite?
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 750 views

Where the Sidewalk Ends
By Paul Bendix | 3 comments | 401 views