Divided council OKs budget, avoids service cuts | June 25, 2021 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 25, 2021

Divided council OKs budget, avoids service cuts

Despite economic uncertainty, budget increases spending by $12M

by Gennady Sheyner

When Palo Alto City Manager Ed Shikada first presented his budget proposal in late April, the document was littered with unpopular proposals, from closing three library branches and defunding the Palo Alto Art Center to reducing the police force and shutting down a fire station.

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Email Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner at [email protected]


Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 22, 2021 at 6:18 am

ALB is a registered user.

Thank you CC for saving the our branch libraries. Filseth and Stone are commended for impressing upon the city manager the residents’ support for these community assets. When pressed the city manager said it will be three to six months to hire personnel. The city needs to accelerate this process to better serve Palo Altans.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 22, 2021 at 8:13 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"The Mitchell Park and Rinconada libraries would remain open six days per week."

I hope this means that Rinconada WILL really be open six days a week rather than 4 days Wednesday-Saturday as it is now.

RE the PA police refusing to defer their raises, how about making the raises contingent on the police having gotten vaccinated, something too many refused to do and thus endangering US rather than protecting us. Shameful the city let this persist.

Posted by Phil Carmody
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 22, 2021 at 8:23 am

Phil Carmody is a registered user.

The libraries at Rinconada and Mitchell should open 7 days a week with afternoon Sunday hours.

The downtown and College Terrace libraries are too small to be taken seriously and a bookmobile would suffice in those two areas.

It is about time the PACC took a stand against Mr. Shikada's tight-fisted authoritarian management style and besides, city managers come and go. They are replaceable.

And speaking of the police force...they are easily replaceable as well and the current officers should consider taking a pay cut given that they don't do a whole lot around here.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 22, 2021 at 8:42 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"t is about time the PACC took a stand against Mr. Shikada's tight-fisted authoritarian management style and besides, city managers come and go. They are replaceable."

Totally agree on opening Rinconada and Mitchell Park 7 days a week.

As for Mr. Shikada, he's not tight-fisted when it comes to his own employment contract, growing his personal staff, double-staffing the solar permitting inspections as a "solution" for the known bad performance of a single staffer who should be replaced, when handing out consulting contracts to tell residents we're wrong in protesting traffic "improvements" that are dangerous or for approving multi-million-dollar contracts in areas like Fiber-To-The-Home where the city has NO expertise and can't even provide normal customer service during power outages.

Sure, he cam be replaced; check out how much it will cost us the first year if he's fired for cause or forced to resign and thereafter since he gets an addition full year of pension vesting further inflating our unfunded pension liabilities for years to come.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Downtown North

on Jun 22, 2021 at 10:39 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Posted by white male Palo Altan
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 22, 2021 at 10:52 am

white male Palo Altan is a registered user.

Although I agree that it’s good news that additional cuts were not made to the Library budget, I think it’s now time to ask some important questions about the library services being provided to Palo Alto residents. Using the 2021 approved budget as the base, I calculate that the Library has close to 44 FTE employees (40.5 FTE benefits-eligible and 3.3 FTE hourly) since positions were frozen a year ago. Between March 2020 and April 2021, none of the Palo Alto libraries were open to residents, although some services continued (such as book reserves and checkouts). Despite that, all staff continued their regular employment and were paid their regular salaries. Since April 2021, there has been some reopening to residents, with the current number of open hours now totalling about 67 hours per week (28 at Mitchell Park, 27 at Rinconada and 12 at Childrens). Again, all 44 FTE staff have been fully paid. Library users must now go to a library to pick up reserved books, check them out using the automated machines and then typically check them back in using the automated machines. Given the number of staff hours available (44 FTE times 40 hours/week) there is no reason that the libraries cannot open for more hours. The basic question that needs to be asked of the Library and City staff is why the hours are being reduced so significantly? What are the staff doing? The abolishment of the Library Advisory Commission was conveniently timed so there is no obvious group with the charge to ask such questions. And a footnote: No Library jobs were posted on the Palo Alto Human Resources website as of this morning.

Posted by Weifeng Pan
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2021 at 11:21 am

Weifeng Pan is a registered user.

Why is the City Hall still closed for service as of yesterday 06/21 when the entire California is open for business?

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 22, 2021 at 11:57 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"although some services continued (such as book reserves and checkouts). Despite that, all staff continued their regular employment and were paid their regular salaries."

Actually they were also answering COVID questions left unanswered by the City Manager's Covid newsletter which was largely compiled unquestioningly from county press releases who could only read back info they'd already published. When assured that I could indeed read what was written and still needed my questions answered, they referred me to the head RESEARCH LIBRARIAN who did actually get answers.

Why not also question the fact that all the other NON-library staff "also continued their regular employment and got their full salaries??" They're paid a lot more than the librarians and often fail to do their jobs -- solar permitting, community outreach, Planning Dept research etc.

Just recently Public Works endangering Crescent Park residents and pets by negligently releasing a huge swarm of bees while removing a diseased tree and residents are still unsuccessfully trying to reach anyone in authority.

Paying and employing librarians is the least of our worries.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 22, 2021 at 12:25 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Editor: please reinstate the "like" feature. Online Name made some excellent points.

Since we are talking budget - for staff who opt to work remotely, does this choice/convenience impact salary? Those who do not work remotely incur numerous work-related expenses (commute costs, parking, wardrobe, etc) that those working from home do not. These expenses add up quickly; some adjustment may be in order.

I appreciate most of the final budget decisions, but Cormack and Tanaka made some good points last night. We could have waited on the Public Services building and we could wait on the Roth building. Why not have a queue for projects that are wanted and needed but not time critical?

Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 22, 2021 at 2:34 pm

rsmithjr is a registered user.

The Roth building is deteriorating and some work is really needed.

I could have waited a long long time for the public safety building. No one I know thinks it is really needed.

Posted by Rodney Bloom
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 23, 2021 at 8:10 am

Rodney Bloom is a registered user.

Another potential revenue source which could provide supplemental funding for all of these municipal services would be for Palo Alto to allow an Indian gambling casino on the outskirts of town, perhaps on the east side off 101 near the Palo Alto Yaught Harbor and former city dump yard site.

It could be called the Ohlone Casino and Resort...operated by tribal descendants with full-fledged gaming, dining, and lodging.

This would attract many potential customers both local and from abroad + provide additional employment opportunities in both the service industry and management of information systems (MIS) sectors.

Posted by Francisco Alacante
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 23, 2021 at 10:15 am

Francisco Alacante is a registered user.

Regarding a hypothetical Palo Alto casino...if you build it, they will come.

Posted by Wilhelm Gerhardt
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2021 at 3:42 pm

Wilhelm Gerhardt is a registered user.

I'd drive across 101 regularly to play blackjack or craps if the casino were only a mile or two away.

The gambling would all go towards a worthwhile cause...either winning a bundle for myself or losing and helping out the city of Palo Alto and the Native Americans.

It's a win-win for everyone.

Adding a good floor show and expansive buffet would also be a plus.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 23, 2021 at 4:21 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Re additional sources of revenue, given that the number of commuters here has tripled since 2017 to 2020 from 32,300 to 100,000+, I'd like to know how much money the city's left on the table by failing to impose a business tax like surrounding communities WHILE asking us, the residents who DO pay tax, to bear the burdens of all the cuts, the money it costs to debate the cuts and to maybe reinstate some of the threatened cuts.

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