‘Difficult’ cuts coming to Palo Alto budget
By Aaron Selverston
May 2, 2012
Read the original article at Patch.com
The City of Palo Alto’s longstanding backlog of utility work will get a badly needed shot in the arm if the new budget passes, but will come at the cost of some city programs, according to Mayor Yiaway Yeh.
In his monthly “Message from the Mayor,” Yeh cited the success of City Council in creating a balanced budget since 2009, largely as a result of reforming employee compensation and benefits.
Meanwhile, he said, the City has increased the amount of money spent on infrastructure from the General Fund to $20 million per year and “maintained programs and services the community deeply values.”
City Manager James Keene presented the proposed 2013 budget to council members at a retreat Monday. The new budget calls for “difficult program funding choices,” including outsourcing the beloved Palo Alto Animal Services, while increasing spending on infrastructure.
“Despite the Council’s efforts over the past four years to budget more for infrastructure, it is not enough,” said Yeh. “The City faces General Fund infrastructure needs of $300 million to catch up with deferrals over a generation and the new demands of our future. These cannot be ignored or postponed.”
If money is not found to pay for these needs, city streets may literally begin falling apart, says Yeh. But the local economy does appear to be on the mend.
“As revenues begin to slowly rebound, infrastructure must be in the mix to ensure Palo Alto’s physical assets such as streets and sidewalks, parks, trails, buildings, and emergency and public safety facilities remain safe and continue to provide value to the community,” he said.
Yeh is encouraging residents to get involved in public meetings, however, because funding infrastructure is almost certainly going to come at the cost of other city services.