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Serious concerns about timing of budget surplus disclosure

Original post made by Renee Batti, associate editor of The Almanac, on Feb 21, 2007

The following letter by Susan Carnahan was published in the Almanac's Feb. 21 print edition:

The action by the new 4-1 majority on the Menlo Party City Council (Boyle opposed) to approve the maximum Utility User Tax in light of the newly revealed $3.7 million budget surplus is not only disappointing; it suggests that the majority of our City Council is not willing to investigate this issue.
Serious concerns have become evident about the timing of the disclosure of the surplus and when city management not only knew there would be a surplus, but knew the size of the surplus. Failure to promptly disclose the existence of a projected surplus or accurately respond to council questioning on this matter at an October meeting is disturbing.
I voted for Measure K, after relying on statements in the Measure K literature, which were repeated in phone campaigns by both the League of Women Voters and the Measure K campaign, that Menlo Park faced continued deficits and drastic cuts in services or jobs. I have no doubt that these groups thought both statements were true at the time.
Polls taken before the campaign said the UTT would fail if employee retirement benefits were raised. The majority of the council just approved a contract raising those benefits, by percent, starting in 2009.
Rather than simply approving the maximum UTT, the City Council should undertake an independent investigation into when city management knew a budget surplus would exist and why they kept results of the October 6 audit report, which listed the $3.7 surplus, a secret from the City Council, the voters of Menlo Park, and the groups who were supporting
Measure K.
I would also like full disclosure on what these one-time savings are that are reputed to have caused the surplus.
The UTT rates approved by the City Council last week should be rescinded and an investigation into the deception of the voters of Menlo Park should be instigated.
Susan Carnahan
Rosefield Way, Menlo Park


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