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Class action lawsuit claims city must refund residents for years of Menlo Park utility taxes

Original post made on Jan 13, 2022

Three Menlo Park residents have filed a class action lawsuit looking for a refund of utility users taxes from the city of Menlo Park, alleging that the City Council has failed to properly reauthorize the tax collection since 2014.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 13, 2022, 2:00 PM

Comments (10)

Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 13, 2022 at 2:23 pm

Observer is a registered user.

Regarding their hopes to increase the utility tax the cabal of three need to be reminded that they were not elected as Robin Hood and his merry followers. They need to also remember that their desire to convert from gas to electric is only an idea, not a done deal, and will likely face legal opposition.


Posted by Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 13, 2022 at 8:31 pm

Enough is a registered user.

It looks like their hope to raise our taxes is about the backfire on them and instead they are going to have to pay back, with interest, 5 years of illegally collected taxes and not collect more until a vote by the residents of Menlo Park approves a new tax. Personally I think that will be a hard sell with everything else going on at the moment. I look forward to my refund check...


Posted by MenloVoter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 14, 2022 at 7:16 am

MenloVoter. is a registered user.

Keep in mind that PG&E and their lapdog, the CPUC have just made solar power extremely expensive and no longer an easy answer to get people into electric. So the pushback is going to be even stronger than it would have before. The cabal needs to keep in mind they are working for the citizens of MP and not saving the world.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jan 14, 2022 at 1:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Cabal is defined as "a secret political clique or faction."

I would suggest that posters not to use this term unless they can also provide evidence that the individuals involved are indeed operating in secret.


Posted by MenloVoter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 14, 2022 at 2:43 pm

MenloVoter. is a registered user.

Peter:

Where there's smoke there's usually fire. I don't think you can deny the optics of this little gang of three. Especially, with their inept attempt at a closed meeting excluding other members of council.


Posted by kbehroozi
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jan 14, 2022 at 5:07 pm

kbehroozi is a registered user.

Not sure why this discussion is focused, yet again, on this alleged "cabal."

Peter's right: unless you can show definitive evidence that these three councilwomen have behaved in a secretive and unethical way (as opposed to committing the sin of embracing policy preferences different from yours), then what you are doing amounts to speculative, anonymous character assassination.

It's also a weird distraction from the costly and regrettable error that was the subject of this article: the city's failure to reauthorize the Utility Users Tax over three consecutive cycles. It's the kind of screw-up that would get one or more people fired in the private sector.

I wish the Almanac would dig a little deeper here. How did something this important fall through the cracks, and what can our city leadership do to prevent future such oversights? ​

There was an exodus of senior staff back in the summer of 2015 (including Assistant City Manager Jerome-Robinson and Finance Director Corbett). Did they create transition memos explaining the process by which the tax was reauthorized? Were those shared? Or was the incoming team (led by Nick Pegueros) expected to just figure it out? What was the role/responsibility of the city attorney, who was touted as a fount of institutional knowledge, and a bulwark aside the revolving door of senior city managers? How much oversight did then-city-manager Alex McIntyre provide to the team preparing the budget, and should he not have noticed the omission?

Perhaps--and I say this gingerly--the outgoing city management team that commenters are extolling made some mistakes. Perhaps they were even discussed in closed session. One can only speculate.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 14, 2022 at 6:48 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Katie:

I think it is fine it was not reauthorized. It was meant as a temporary measure to shore up finances after the Great Recession. When the city no longer needed the extra funds it should not been approved for renewal. This oversight has the effect of doing what should have been done with the unfortunate side effect that the city will now have to come out of pocket for taxes that shouldn’t have been collected in the first place.

This whole thing just reinforces the old saying there is no such thing as a temporary tax. This tax was to be temporary, instead it was running on its own and if it hadn’t been for several council members desire to virtue signal at our expense by raising the tax it probably would have continued with the error undiscovered.


Posted by Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 14, 2022 at 10:13 pm

Enough is a registered user.

You would think the current "gang of three" that is discussed above would have looked into the tax before floating raising the tax for all the residents of Menlo Park. I find it appalling that in a time where we are having inflation of 7% and the three city council members are discussing forcing residents to spend potentially thousands of dollars to convert to electricity that they would even consider raising our taxes on utilities from 1% to 3.5%. Are they really that out of touch?


Posted by Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 14, 2022 at 10:17 pm

Enough is a registered user.

"Peter's right: unless you can show definitive evidence that these three councilwomen have behaved in a secretive and unethical way (as opposed to committing the sin of embracing policy preferences different from yours), then what you are doing amounts to speculative, anonymous character assassination."

Web Link

Just to be clear, this is what you are defending. Is this the actions you want to see from your city government? It isn't the ones I want to see from mine.


Posted by mickie winkler
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 16, 2022 at 10:01 am

mickie winkler is a registered user.

As an aside, this tax should never have been passed in 2006. The city manager, who suggested the tax to shore up city coffers, neglected to tell the city council or the city what he already knew until immediately before the election--that we had a $3million surplus that year. He knew it. We did not. It would never have passed IMO, as the narrow margin of victory suggests, if residents had known.

Not surprisingly, he (Dave Boesch) left the city shortly after to become San Mateo County Manager.


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