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November 24, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, November 24, 2004

News Digest News Digest (November 24, 2004)

Gas rate increase proposed

The average Palo Alto homeowner's gas bill is proposed to rise by $9.29, or around 18 percent, on Jan. 1.

The City Council's Finance Committee voted unanimously to recommend the increase last week. The City Council will vote on it Monday, Dec. 13.

The increase is proposed to offset heightened natural gas prices, due to several factors including damage caused by Hurricane Ivan to production facilities.

The average residential bill would go up from $49.95 to $59.24. That would still be between 13 to 23 percent less than PG&E, according to Utilities Director John Ulrich.

Palo Altan's electricity rate is already scheduled to go up on Jan. 1 by 8.4 percent.
-- Bill D'Agostino

Changes approved for Palo Alto budget process

At Councilwoman Hillary Freeman's request, the process for writing and approving Palo Alto's budget will be modified.

Starting next year, there will be a clear delineation of which programs have lost or gained funding, a "Top Five" meeting will be held every year to discuss the city's five top priorities and capital projects that have been approved will be marked differently from those that are only ideas.

"With these changes, there's a shift in the equilibrium to allow more proactive community and council participation," Freeman said. "I feel that that's very much lacking right now the way it is. It feels like a very, very staff dominated budget."

The City Council approved the procedural changes during its meeting last Monday night.
-- Bill D'Agostino

East Palo Alto council race all but over

East Palo Alto Mayor Donna Rutherford has opened up a 59-vote lead on City Councilman Duane Bay for the third of three four-year seats on the East Palo Alto City Council, all but ending the contest with few votes left to be counted. The latest vote tally was released late Thursday.

Rutherford has 1,665 votes to Bay's 1,609. Councilwoman Pat Foster is the leading vote-getter with 2,064 votes, while challenger A. Peter Evans is in second place with 1,884 votes.

Former Ravenswood City School Board member Ruben Abrica easily won the two-year seat with 2,865 votes.
-- Don Kazak

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