A budget that includes fee increases for a wide range of services, higher rates for plots at community gardens and elimination of six firefighter positions will be the subject of a public hearing in front of the Palo Alto City Council tonight, June 11.
The budget, which the council is expected to discuss tonight and approve next week, is perhaps most remarkable for what it doesn't include. When City Manager James Keene first unveiled the document to the council in early May, it included controversial provisions such as the outsourcing of animal services, cuts to the city's Summer Concert series and transfer of the Baylands Interpretive Center from the city's control to Santa Clara County's. Since then, these proposals have either been scrapped (as in the case of animal services) or scaled back. The cuts for community gardeners, for example, are now slated to increase from 50 cents per square foot to 75 cents per square foot, not $1 per square foot as initially proposed.
Other controversial provisions remain, including a transfer of the police department's traffic-enforcement team to the patrol division because of staffing shortages in the department. The fiscal year 2013 budget would also expand the Fire Department's ambulance service while instituting a "flexible" staffing program under which a fire engine at the Hanover station would back up other stations that have staffing shortages. The latter change was made possible by the recent scrapping of the minimum-staffing provision in the firefighters' contract.
The $153 million budget also includes a $2.2 million increase for infrastructure improvements, as was recommended last year by a 17-member Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Commission.
The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a closed session. Regular meeting will follow in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave.