News

Palo Alto proposes fees for parks, programs

Council committee approves $5 parking fee for Foothills Park, baylands and Arastradero Preserve

Palo Alto's art lovers, park visitors and young actors are likely to feel the sting of the city's budget deficit after a City Council committee recommended implementing a host of new fees in July to reduce the city's budget gap.

Despite protests from theater advocates, art lovers and other community stakeholders, the Finance Committee agreed on Tuesday night to support a package of new revenues and "cost recovery" proposals aimed at reducing a projected $7.3 million budget gap in fiscal year 2011, beginning July 1.

These include a new $5 parking fee for visitors to Foothills Park, the baylands and the Pearson/Arastradero Preserve; higher priced tickets for certain Children's Theatre shows; a new entrance fee for exhibitions at the Palo Alto Arts Center; and higher fees for recreational classes.

The committee approved these increases during its review of the Community Services Department budget. A crowd of residents, including Children's Theatre supporters of all ages, filled the Council Chambers to hear if their favorite program would get slashed or face fee hikes. Before they had a chance to speak to the committee, Councilman Larry Klein warned them that service cuts are inevitable.

"This is a very difficult year," Klein said. "I've heard lots of speeches over the years that translate to, 'Don't cut my program.'

"I hope this year your speech will be different because we're in a different place."

Despite his plea, about 20 speakers appealed to the committee not to cut off funding to the Children Theatre, impose new fees for the Art Center or reduce financial support for local nonprofits.

Louise Carroll, chief operating officer for the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation, said the proposed fees for the Art Center would create a new barrier.

"The Palo Alto Art Center is a community resource and a creative outlet for all," Carroll said "We have been proud that in our near 40-year history, we have not had a barrier to entry," she later added.

The Community Services Department also plans to contract out maintenance of the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course, Mitchell Park and Rinconada Park and eliminate one of its four division manager positions.

Former Councilman Jack Morton, a longtime champion of community services, said he opposes the widespread cuts and fee increases in the departments and urged the council to focus on the Fire Department, where the budget is scheduled to go up by about $1.7 million. The council should require other departments to share in the costs, Morton argued.

"It's not just taking a little here and a little there," Morton said. "They are balancing the budget on the back of the Community Services Department."

"Not every department is sharing in this equally."

But for the committee and City Manager James Keene, the operative phrase on Tuesday night was "cost recovery."

Keene and Community Services Director Greg Betts both said the proposed budget is the first step in a broader effort to make more department programs pay for themselves. This could soon translate to new admission fee for the Junior Museum and Zoo and the Art Center and higher fees for art classes and recreation fees.

"I think we have to move to a much fuller cost-recovery program," Keene told the committee.

Judge Luckey, director of Children's Theatre, said he's confident the theater can achieve the new target of raising its revenues by $100,000, through donations and increased ticket prices.

"I think it's a stretch for us, but I think we can achieve this over the course of the next year," Luckey said.

The Finance Committee rejected a few of Keene's proposed budget cuts, including proposals to eliminate the city's annual summer-concert series and to trim funding for the Human Services Resource Allocation Process (HSRAP), Palo Alto's grant program for nonprofit groups. The committee unanimously agreed to maintain both services next year.

Klein was the only member of the four-member committee who opposed the new $5 fee for visiting local parks. Frequent park visitors would also have the option of buying $40 season passes. The fees are projected to bring in about $100,000.

Klein argued that there are better ways to raise $100,000, but Vice Mayor Sid Espinosa, committee Chairman Greg Schmid and Councilman Greg Scharff voted to adopt the staff proposal.

"In essence, what this is is a parking fee," Schmid said. "As a parking fee that can be enforced informally, without having someone standing at the gate, it's equivalent to what the experience is at other parks."

The full council is scheduled to consider the committee's recommendations and adopt the 2011 budget in late June.

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Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Joey
a resident of Barron Park
on May 12, 2010 at 4:10 am

This is what happens when our city has a runaway budget - we have to face up to it.
It's time to curb spending in every sector so that the fees will not just be a first step in charging us for every city service.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2010 at 7:16 am

Childrens' Theatre should charge for participation, not just for tickets.

Shuttle rides should not be free, a modest charge would make sense. Don't give free rides to school for some Palo Alto families and not others.


Like this comment
Posted by Too Much Traffic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2010 at 7:32 am

"Former Councilman Jack Morton, a longtime champion of community services, said he opposes the widespread cuts and fee increases in the departments and urged the council to focus on the Fire Department, where the budget is scheduled to go up by about $1.7 million. The council should require other departments to share in the costs, Morton argued."

Amazing that Morton who was on the council for 8 years takes no responsibility for the budget problems and appears at every meeting to protest cuts. What chutzpah.

We will see what happens in the end. Everyone is against cutting their pet program and want something else cut.
We shall see if the council has the stomach to go ahead with budget cuts--they usually are swayed by vocal minorities and want to avoid any conflict. That also explains why out city is in the shape it is in, literally and figuratively.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 12, 2010 at 8:02 am

Wonderful news - fiscal responsibility! I love the idea of Programs being self supporting. Between our generous citizens and a little higher fees, this could work. Now if we can just get people to admit that 5 branches cost more than 3 (just like 5 houses cost more than 3).


Like this comment
Posted by David
a resident of another community
on May 12, 2010 at 8:13 am

It is about time that the Theater and Arts start charging for programs, especially the childrens theater. $1 mil in subsidized funding has been the rule for years. It nearly sounded like gift of city funds.


Like this comment
Posted by Parking Fees
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2010 at 9:18 am

I don't mind paying to enter Palo Alto's parks but they are surrounded by neighborhood streets where I can park for free and walk two or three blocks - no problem.

It will cost the City more to hire people to collect the parking fee than they collect. It's easy to get around this parking fee.

When I lived in Los Altos Hills I used to walked to Foothill Park and give my dog a run in the park. Just park in a LAH neighborhood nearby and jump over the fence.


Like this comment
Posted by anon
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on May 12, 2010 at 9:24 am

When an entrance fee to Foothill was tried a number of years ago, all it did was drastically reduce usage while costing more than it brought in. Doesn't make sense.

And it makes even less sense for the Baylands and Arastradero - there are multiple ways to enter both of them.

Why is the Children's Theatre so untouchable?


Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 12, 2010 at 9:51 am

Sounds like being penny-wise and pound foolish. It is dishearteneing but not surprising that pet projects remain while there are structural problems that need to be dealt with efficiently and decisively.
So, even if nobody staffs Baylands, for example, which is near me, they will need to install a fee box (costs what...100k for it plus labor? -- with the inflated costs we pay for anything associated with local government!) and someone will still need to go collect the fees out of the box (which may be vulnerable to criminals) and the City employee will be paid a wage to do this. And this is going to result in a profit for the city?!
One of the newspapers reported yesterday that the city person who had been FULLTIME enforcing the "leafblower ban" decided to leave, would not be replaced, and I recall reading this person was making something like 45K.
Time to get with the real world and immediately discontinue nonsense like the $1M per year subsidy to Palo Alto Children's Theatre. There is no reason why influential peoples' pet projects should be funded by all of us. Join the real world of nonprofits who do not receive such disproportionate amounts we taxpayers can't afford.


Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2010 at 9:58 am

Former Councilman Jack Morton is full of opinions. Too bad he didn’t watch the budget when he was on the council. In the 4/13/10 Daily Post, he said escalating costs of police and fire departments are to blame for the city’s deficit, and growth should have been stopped years ago. “It’s sort of as if we were in denial.”

>”Why is the Children’s Theatre so untouchable?”

Because it’s a “cherished” institution and because “A crowd of residents, including Children's Theatre supporters of all ages, filled the Council Chambers to hear if their favorite program would get slashed or face fee hikes.”

Council always pays more attention to weeping children and their parents than to residents who want fiscal responsibility.

The Children’s Theatre and Jr. Museum should be turned over to private groups, who can then decide whether to charge fees. In 2006, a group wanted to take over the Museum/Zoo, but then-councilwoman LaDoris Cordell vetoed the idea because she didn't want any city employees to lose their jobs.


Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 12, 2010 at 10:01 am

Fact is, there are plenty of comparable and equally worthy children/youth institutions BESIDES PA Children's Theatre. Sorry, but this is true.


Like this comment
Posted by Too Much Traffic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2010 at 10:14 am

What percentage of Palo Alto children take part in the PACT?? 5%? 10%? A million dollars a year to PACT is ridiculous if they managed their money properly. But since we know that financial mismanagement has been going on for years at PACT, it is doubly insulting to insist that the city fork over that large amount of money given our budget crisis.


Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2010 at 10:15 am

PACT needs a thorough budget review. As usual, a small vocal group shows up to protect their subsidy - the Council needs to grow a spine on this. Find me another town that spends half what we spend per capital on Children's Theater. This has to end - find, phase it down, but how about starting with $100 participation fees?


Like this comment
Posted by mom of Four
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2010 at 10:34 am

Resident writes:
Shuttle rides should not be free, a modest charge would make sense. Don't give free rides to school for some Palo Alto families and not others.

As far as I know, the free cross-town shuttle from midtown to Gunn no longer exists. My kids pay the VTA fare just like anyone else.


Like this comment
Posted by Park Fees
a resident of Barron Park
on May 12, 2010 at 10:55 am

Park fees make sense for parks where the primary use is 5 hours or more, not parks where the majority go for 1 hour (plus or minus some minutes). This will result in exactly what has already been posted - decreased usage and increased neighborhood parking. $5 to take a one hour walk is rediculous!!


Like this comment
Posted by bick
a resident of University South
on May 12, 2010 at 10:58 am

These art programs are pocket change in the overall budget, but add much to the community. As someone above says, "penny-wise, pound foolish".

Council should make cuts where they will really make a difference... like cut's in high-paid personnel and benefits. Public sector jobs have become too attractive and cushy. Lower pay and cut bennies. Encourage private sector jobs, not public service.


Like this comment
Posted by real question
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 12, 2010 at 11:01 am

"What percentage of Palo Alto children take part in the PACT?? 5%? 10%?"

That's the next question. The first question should be: "What percentage of children taking part in PACT are from Palo Alto?"


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Posted by Art Center Volunteer
a resident of College Terrace
on May 12, 2010 at 11:24 am

I think an admission fee to the Art Center exhibitions is un-workable. It would probably cost more to administer and collect than it would generate for the city. In addition, it would probably deter about half the potential visitors. Would classroom groups be charged? What about groups from senior facilities? The Art Center does collect voluntary donations at the door. It will be interesting to see how much more is collected with a set admission fee.


Like this comment
Posted by bob
a resident of Southgate
on May 12, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Stop issuing bs tickets.

Reduce the ridiculously high fees (or issue a warning)for having to park 2 inches outside the designated parking line, just so you have enough time to pay $20 for a quick lunch. (It's obvious you're just looking for money, and are not helping/protecting anyone.) That $20 lunch just cost $75+, and you didn't just entice me to eat in that neighborhood again this week..

Cut the outrageously high fees we have to pay for feeling like we are a big enough part of our own town, that we're comfortable in taking the small privileges of ownership. If I say that I am not causing a problem, or hurting anyone by parking right here, than as an owner, I am right.

If you take a little bigger slice of pie in your own kitchen, should you feel entitled,(you paid for it!)or be penalized?

Would you stop wanting to share your pies? Would you feel betrayed because you were punished for taking 10 minutes longer in the store, and you had a ticket on your windshield when you finished paying way too much for that present?

We're hitting the very same people that pay for the ticket giver. We're hurting the same people that pay managers to decide this is how we should raise funds and keep more people in place.

In doing so, we take a little more from the citizens pocket, and they/we have a little less to pay for the privilege to shop in the higher priced stores here. We also upset that citizen that decided to pay $1.5 for a tiny 2 bedroom cottage. Is it enough to drive them out? Maybe it gets them thinking about it, and then what happens to property taxes?

If we took $50 from every citizen in town this week for shopping too long downtown, that is $50 times 60,000 people that don't have that extra $50 to spend in Palo Alto. (Shop owners and sales taxes are effected.)

Conversely, if we found ways to keep, or put more money into our pockets, we will be much more comfortable reaching in to spend on dinner, that pie, tickets to the theater, the school fundraiser, etc.

Stop penalizing us in ways that make it obvious that we're just another non-thinking, heartless city.

Imagine the City making the decision to find ways to make us happier to be here. If they announced that all fees would be reduced instead of increased - would the $50 times 60,000 people ($3,000,000.) come happily from our pockets??

I think we're looking at this all wrong. It's "common" to look for ways to raise funds by way of increased fees and penalties. Unfortunately, it's the easier way, and every City looks within it's own (government) system to find examples of how to deal with reduced revenue. There is not much creativity within that system, and the end result is often to further reduce our ability to spend.

Find ways to stop taking money from us, and better yet, help us make more money, and you'll see a population better able and willing to support our town. And ownership should feel good!

Make us upset by promising to "find more ways to get money from them", and that little slice of Palo Alto pie, starts to taste a little too rich.

If the City said, all citizens of Palo Alto have unlimited parking rights, and will be issued warnings for minor infractions for the entire year, but they must donate $50 for every person within their household - we might be able to reduce the work load and therefore payroll cost of the Police, Fire, Transportation, Planning, etc. departments.

In one small move, we've raised $3mil, increased sales taxes, and reduced costs. Find more incentives/ways to respect our ownership, enlist our intelligence, loyalty, and support, and who knows what we can accomplish.

Just a thought..


Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Jack Morton, Larry Klein have some reponsibility for the current deficit. They voted to enrich the pensions of city workers, adding $6 million dollars in cost to the budget.

I would add to those reponsible Yeh, Burt, Espinosa for the extravagant spending on , and failure to restructure the staff for greater efficiency, and reduced overhead.

Let's hope the new council members (Scharff, Holman, Price & Shepard) show they can focus on restoring our city to financial health, and stop pandering to special interest groups.


Like this comment
Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 12, 2010 at 12:07 pm

This park-fee idea has been proposed and defeated several times. It is not going to work. Savings of $100K? ridiculous. Loss of $1M in good will. Resdients - seniors, strollers, visitors to the Interpretive Center, to the new Education Center (if it ever opens), the Duck Pond, painters will stop going. There are no cuts in the top management positions which have exploded in number under Keene. So many assistant City managers. And the city isn't any better run. Remember Destination Palo Alto? $450K Senior games $250K? A $150K statue for California Avenue? Re-modeling Lytton Plaza for how much - and it is a a cold, impersonal Los Angeles piece of ground. Got as much charm as a harshly lighted roller rink. How much was spent on the Downtown Farmer's Market which 'bombed'. How about travel expenses? And the SEIU and the Fire Department, etc. are laughing all the way to the bank. The city shouldn't even think of asking for any more bond issues - parcel taxes, whatever. We can fight back, we should fight back, and we WILL fight back at the ballot box. Sure, it's easy to take this budget mess out on the children, the seniors, family recreation - but never on the 6th and 7th floors of City Hall.


Like this comment
Posted by Too Much Traffic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I do not expect much from Holman--it seems that for every budget cut proposed she comes back with the reply that it will "erode our quality of life".
Doesn't she think that the backlog in infrastructure repair, as an example, is eroding our quality of life?
It seems that she is an enabler and a voice for the vocal minorities that do not want their pet programs cut in any way.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter K. MUELLER
a resident of Barron Park
on May 12, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Proposal for park parking collection fees appears to be nonsense without further delineation of the the net income after expenses for placement and administration and consideration in depth of many other factors. May be a comprehensive report exists that hasn't been covered by this news piece.

The parks have many benefits for users particularly, but also for everyone environmentally. So what fraction of costs for keeping our parks would come from parking fees versus other sources?

Also we have the Regional Park system, what would be the economics of joining with them?

What are the demographics of current park users? Do we have such information? If not, it's probably not worth the cost to get it all.

Anyway let's get an in-depth public discussion going before jumping to conclusions.





Like this comment
Posted by Budget busting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Real question says: "What percentage of Palo Alto children take part in the PACT??" A lot of children come from Menlo Park, Portola Valley, Woodside etc. and frankly I'm tired of supporting children from outside PA.


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on May 12, 2010 at 12:54 pm

To Budget Busting:

I understand children and non-residents DO pay. There are fees for classes. It is NOT a free ride. So lget the facts. Maybe the Director can just publish the fee schedule. PACT has been around as a jewel in the city's children's activities - and known nationally - for over sixty years. It's done more good that all the knotheads at City Hall. Ever been to a production? Seen the outdoor theater which was is a million $$$ plus facility - all donated?
See the donor budget? Fantastic. Do you people who condemn PACT have any idea what you are even talking about? Get the facts before you blow off.


Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Bob - I laughed hard at your post. If there are so many wonderful donors, I guess the $1 million annual city subsidy isn't needed right? Yes, it is a "jewel" all right and known nationally - since at $1 million a year, there aren't many (any?) other towns would even consider such a program. Given all the donor support, raising private money to continue PACT should not be an issue - right??

Someone once pointed out that Wilmette, IL, another tony suburb, had a city funded children's theater - see, others do it! I called the gentleman who runs the program there. Their annual children's theater budget is $15,000 (yep, $15 thousand) - and they take in about $20K in ticket sales, fees, and program ads - so they actually make money! I told him our budget was $1 million. He asked if that included building a theater. Wow.

Please PACT supporters, get off your high horse and get off the city dole.


Like this comment
Posted by Alan
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2010 at 1:43 pm

I think the article indicated that the charge would only be $40 per year.

"Frequent park visitors would also have the option of buying $40 season passes"


Personally, I don't see anything wrong with that assuming that is for all of the parks, not per park.


Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 12, 2010 at 1:55 pm

PYT Peninsula Children's Theatre - just for one example of another local worthy group.
NOT "everyone" has their kiddies in Palo Alto Children's Theatre, only those with political connections, apparently, looking at this costly $1M per year city taxpayer funding to that one organization.
It's time for change.


Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 12, 2010 at 1:58 pm

sorry, PYT Peninsula Youth Theatre - I recommend checking them out. They are a quality organization and have a participation fee of over $200. I am not affiliated with them, merely use them as one quick example of groups comparable to PACT. There's a lot of fishes in the nonprofit youth group sea and it is beyond me why we are required to hand over all this money to PACT.


Like this comment
Posted by Daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 12, 2010 at 2:37 pm

This is just entirely silly. Some people will just stop going to F.H Park, especially since there are so many alternative in the Peninsula Open Space region,stop going to the local theater, to exhibitions in the Art Center, etc. They will walk or bike to the bay lands instead of driving and they will stop taking the various classes offered. The end result may very well be a net lose instead of savings, and a reduction in our quality of life without making a dent in the deficit.


Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2010 at 2:52 pm

I hope all of you are writing to the city council regarding your concerns, because council members will determine what gets cut and there’s no guarantee they’re reading your comments here.

citycouncil@cityofpaloalto.org; james.keene@cityofpaloalto.org

Re the “cherished” Children’s Theatre: Today’s Daily News (5/12) has an article about costs and participation.

Even with a proposed hike in ticket prices, “the theater is expected to cost the city $ 1.3 million more than it brings in next year.”

Its “core productions serve only about 5 percent of the city’s teens.”

There are too many entrenched interests in Palo Alto -- golf, CT, libraries, etc. The sense of entitlement is mind-boggling.

Why can't residents see beyond their own narrow selfish interest and realize that the city has a serious budget deficit and a $510 million infrastructure backlog?


Like this comment
Posted by Daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 12, 2010 at 2:56 pm

So libraries are an "entrenched interest" and an "entitlement"? I wonder if there's another civilized nation in which libraries would be described that way.


Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Daniel, not libraries generally - just the tiny branches. There is no group that feel more entitled than the College Terrace and Downtown branch supporters - who were willing to submarine the whole bond if their branches weren't preserved. Selfishness, they name is Palo Alto.


Like this comment
Posted by Maria
a resident of Downtown North
on May 12, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Nothing should ever be free to anyone even in good times. A nominal fee to everything is warranted to reduce abuse of the commons. People who think that things should be free should consider the quality of life in communist countries. It's a ridiculous notion.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Maria

I agree with you that nothing should be free. But in fact, our City services are not free. We pay for them in our property taxes and sales taxes. These taxes are supposed to provide us with basic city services, but not luxury items. I expect my roads and sidewalks, emergency services, city parks upkeep, street lights, sewers, drains, etc. to be covered by these taxes. I also think that a decent library be included in this.

I think that subsidies for city programs such as classes for all to be included from this revenue. However, I do not think that some services should be free to those who participate (Childrens Theatre, Jr. Museum, shuttle services, etc.) while others are not (VTA buses, AYSO, Little League, etc.) The City Council should not be in a position to say which segment of the community should get their activity at little or no cost, and which ones should pay the full cost.

When my kids were younger we used many classes and camps and happily paid for them. It seemed fair that those from outside PA should pay more. What doesn't seem fair is that the majority of us are paying for activities while others don't.

There is very little free in life, we usually pay for them in our taxes. But, paying for others' activities in our taxes is wrong, even when it is paying for those who live in College Terrace or Downtown get their own personal library, and the rest of us have to travel a couple of miles to get to one.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 12, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Putting up fees for the parks is ridiculous. They will cost more to enforce than they will collect. The park system should not suffer because of the fiscal irresponsibility of the other city departments. The parks should be enjoyed by everyone for free as they were intended.


Like this comment
Posted by anon.
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 12, 2010 at 4:39 pm

I don't have a huge problem with the announced fees. HOWEVER, they are only cosmetic fixes, not long term solutions. What needs to be addressed is salaries and pension plans of BOTH city management and employees. There should be no sacred cows right now.


Like this comment
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2010 at 5:41 pm

I feel there is a significant difference between things which are a benefit to the entire community, such as parks, things which are of benefit to local community areas, such as libraries and things that are for special interests such as the Children's Theatre. If the Theatre is so important to the community then the community should support it by attending and paying the appropriate ticket price. If the response is, well that is not enough to pay for it, then my comment is that in that case that the community at large does not want it, at least not enough to go there. As we are not in an ideal economic situation I think the Theatre subsidy should be zero. Obviously cuts need to be made elsewhere as well. However I see this as a complete misuse of our limited funds.


Like this comment
Posted by Where the money goes
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Kate pointed out several big expenditures like
>Re-modeling Lytton Plaza for how much - and it is a a cold, impersonal Los Angeles >piece of ground. Got as much charm as a harshly lighted roller rink.
Right. That awful design was estimated in 2007 and in 2008 to cost between $500,000 and 600,000. It crept up over time, and when the city agreed to pay half, the so called Friends upped it to around $800,000.


Like this comment
Posted by reality check
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 12, 2010 at 6:44 pm

"However I see this as a complete misuse of our limited funds."

Definitely. Those funds are needed for SEIU pensions and benefits. We can't afford to be spending it on PACT!


Like this comment
Posted by Here's an Idea
a resident of another community
on May 12, 2010 at 7:11 pm

The Foothills Park and the Baylands would be free if the City would sell them to the Mid-Peninsula Open Space trust and let them operate them. They'd save over a million dollars a year, get an influx of millions in cash to invest in infrastructure, reduce overhead and have zero decrease in Palo Alto quality of life.

If you believe in this approach like I do, please call or write the Council to demand they explore this option.


Like this comment
Posted by about time to set priorities
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2010 at 9:05 am



the money going to PACT in contrast to the proposed cuts like school crossing guards, is irresponsible and putting the threat out, to be fought out by advocates is even worst.

unbelievable


Like this comment
Posted by Won't happen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2010 at 10:32 am

Here's an Idea says: "The Foothills Park and the Baylands would be free if the City would sell them to the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) and let them operate them." Please also include the Arastradero Preserve!!!

This is not a new idea, the problem is these properties could only be sold if POST came up with tens of millions which they do not have. In the last few years Palo Alto bought a section of the Arastradero Preserve to add to their wild lands and there is huge support for retaining them in PA.


Like this comment
Posted by opus
a resident of Midtown
on May 13, 2010 at 6:33 pm

follow the money. if city leaders can't even tell us what happened to the missing $4.8 million from this years budget how can they be held accountable for making intelligent financial decisions. what a pity that taxpaying citizens argue in favor of paying "extra fees" for a service that they already are paying for with the highest property taxes on the peninsula. what a shame that city management and city council promote this action by claiming that citizens need to "share" the cost! Share! we're already paying 100% of the costs and the salaries of city management and city council! for those experts posting comments that city workers somehow are responsible for the extra costs, well, I guess it's like saying the increasing costs at the gas station or supermarket are because people work there and therefore it is directly related to our costs and is the main reason for customer cost increases. yeah I guess if people are employed they expect to get paid just like you and me. hard to blame a group that chooses to work for 20-30 years for an ungrateful recipient when the average American now works for his or her employer less than four years before moving on. oh well, it's easier to blame the easy target and get on the media bandwagon rather than researching where the money is really going. to city management: please tell us what happened to the missing $4.8 million.


Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on May 13, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Here's a CMR re the $4.8M. See if it tells you anything.

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on May 13, 2010 at 9:29 pm

>… what a shame that city management and city council promote this action by claiming that citizens need to "share" the cost! Share! we're already paying 100% of the costs and the salaries of city management and city council!

A brilliant comment! So obvious when you point it out. Thanks, opus.


Like this comment
Posted by HR
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 13, 2010 at 9:48 pm

$40 for a season pass. Thats less than a night at the movies with the family. I think it
should be at least $50. Charge $100 for a season fishing pass for those over 16 with a
guest. Pass a city ordnance with a $500 min. fine for those fishing without the pass. I
have no problem paying for things if I'm the minority using something payed for by
others. Same goes with Childrens Theatre, bus services, housing, airports, golf courses,
community buildings, and any other luxuries we pay into.


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Posted by opus
a resident of Midtown
on May 13, 2010 at 10:05 pm

thanks pat. doesn't tell us where the $4.8 million went but tells us how the city manager and city council plans to add the $4.8 million to future deficits. pretty amazing how an unknown $4.8 million deficit disclosed to city council in november 2009 is readily and easily "fixed" in early december 2009 using taxpayer reserve and general funds from necessary technology infrastructure improvements by transferring city funds through multiple city accounts. still no word from the city manager or council what happened to the missing $4.8 million. let's hope all our funding issues are this easy to cover.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on May 14, 2010 at 11:45 am

opus, I keep thinking about your comment about why we are asked to pay fees when "we're already paying 100% of the costs." It highlights the whole philosophy of services, i.e.,

- We all pay for police/fire/public safety. No one asks us to pay additional fees to the police officer who comes to our house to investigate a burglary or a fireman who puts out a fire.

- We all pay for parks. So why should we have to pay an admission fee to use them?

- We all pay for the Children's Theatre -- but only 5% of residents use it. So the question here is not how much of a fee to charge (to see shows or to participate), but rather why we are ALL paying for something 95% of us never use?

This is another interesting way to look at priorities.

It seems obvious to me (and others) that little-used services like the CT should be completely cut from the budget. After all, the city doesn't subsidize kids' sports, which surely sees higher participation.

If enough people are interested in the CT, then it would continue under private control. If not, it would fold. I think the latter is true, which is a strong indicator that we shouldn't keep paying for it.


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Posted by about time to set priorities
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2010 at 3:06 pm



Pat,

what a concept - to look at priorities

but city council determines priorities with the same formula that they use for their budget - paying for things that 5% of the population uses or cares about.

they will set priorities by listening to the 5% of the population that makes the biggest case for whatever matters to their well organized advocacy groups, and then pit them against each other

no brainers like Palo Alto school crossing guards over theatre for many kids that don't even live here, maybe that's too much to ask for




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Posted by Dan
a resident of Southgate
on May 14, 2010 at 4:34 pm

How much did we spend on those heavily subsidized LED light bulbs? Or the Fire requirements contract that was canceled? Even with the city way past broke, the council just can't stop wasting money. So now this.


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