CASHING IN ... Palo Alto officials are wrestling with a wonderful dilemma: a $44 million pool of funds and plenty of discretion about how to spend it. The money, which was provided by the Stanford University Medical Center, is part of the development agreement the city signed with Stanford two years ago to enable Stanford's giant expansion of its hospital facilities. This week, the City Council's Policy and Services Committee laid out a process for deciding on how to spend this money. The committee emphasized this week that they would like to focus on long-lasting infrastructure projects and that they would like to avoid spending the money on operational costs or setting up an endowment. As part of the new process, the council will have a "master list" of priority projects that it will review every year as part of the budget process until the pool of funds is exhausted — a process that committee members expect to take five to 10 years. Committee members also emphasized one major difference between the Stanford funds and the city's normal capital-improvement program: The latter is largely used for routine maintenance. The former allows the council to dream big. "The Stanford money is like you've just come into a big inheritance and now you can afford to fix up your house and maybe add another room or something," Councilman Larry Klein said. "That's how I see the Stanford money."
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