Transmittal Letter

City Manager's fiscal year 2021-22 proposed budget

Reimagining, rebuilding, and reinvigorating the community

Dear Honorable Mayor Combs and Members of the City Council,

The last year has been unimaginably difficult, filled with isolation, loss, and stress in the community, the nation, and worldwide. As vaccines become widely available and the City and country look forward to a return to some sense of normalcy, it is with a hopeful heart that I present to you my proposed budget for fiscal year 2021-22. The City has weathered the storm of a worldwide pandemic through the strong leadership of the City Council, the engagement and support of community members, and the dedicated work of professional staff throughout the organization, and it is due to this resilience that I am optimistic about the coming year. Whereas fiscal year 2020-21 was one of hard choices and ensuring stability, my proposed budget for fiscal year 2021-22 allows for restoration and regrowth, an opportunity for reflection and introspection on City service delivery models, the highest and best use of resources, and reestablishing support to the community.

The fiscal year 2021-22 proposed operating budget is balanced and identifies potential changes from the fiscal year 2020-21 budget, all in an effort to reimagine, rebuild, and reinvigorate the community, the theme of this year's budget. The strong financial position of the City, combined with additional resources available through the American Rescue Plan Act and a historically quick recovery from economic downturns, provide a unique set of circumstances for the City to turn tragedy into opportunity. The General Fund expects to see a rapid return of many revenue sources and capacity in expenditures due to fiscally prudent decisions in prior years. The proposed budget includes new funding for four City Council adopted 2021 priorities: 2020 census redistricting, capital improvement team staff (0.50 FTE) to support the Menlo Park Community Campus construction project, Caltrain quiet zone evaluation, and Middle Avenue complete street study. The budget does not include direct funding for two priorities, reimagining public safety services and reimagining downtown, pending City Council study session to scope the projects. The proposed budget includes a number of substantial contingencies, including the use of stimulus funding, intended to allow the City Council and community the opportunity to rethink and reflect on the mix and delivery of City services. As is always the case, the budget is a living document and I expect that fiscal year 2021-22 will require the same level of agility and revision of the prior year. The City Council's adopted priorities represent the ambitious agenda that rebuilding after the pandemic entails, and this proposed budget provides a framework to meet that challenge. I look forward to the opportunity to meet the challenge head on and to a City organization which continues to reinvent itself to better reflect the views and desires of the community!

Starla Jerome-Robinson, City Manager

Major Changes to the Budget

The fiscal year 2021-22 proposed budget sees a number of changes from prior fiscal years, in part due to updates in budgeting and accounting practices afforded by the implementation of new financial software, and in part due to changes in the mix of services offered and organizational structure driven largely by pandemic-related resource limitations. These changes are discussed in greater detail below and throughout the budget document where applicable.

City Council adopted 2021 priorities

The budget includes carryover, and new funds sufficient to meet City Council adopted milestones for 2021-22 on the following priorities:

  • 2020 census redistricting
  • 2022 housing element and related zoning code updates and documents
  • Caltrain rail corridor quiet zone analysis
  • Climate Action Plan No. 1 - Explore policy/program options to convert 95% of existing buildings to all-electric
  • Climate Action Plan No. 4b - Middle Avenue rail crossing and complete street
  • ConnectMenlo community amenities list update
  • Menlo Park Community Campus

The budget includes contingency funds from which City Council may earmark funding for the following two priorities as their scope and milestones are currently unknown and will develop after the beginning of the fiscal year:

  • Reimagining downtown
  • Reimagining public safety

City Council adopted 2021 work plan projects

The budget does not include the City Council adopted 2021 work plan due to the need to scope the work plan projects. Some projects such as the City's efforts on racial equity require reprioritization of work assigned to existing staff to allow the time necessary to fully participate in the program. The contingency fund provided in the one-time revenue fund may be earmarked after the beginning of the fiscal year once City Council approves project milestones for fiscal year 2021-22.

  • Racial equity - NLC's REAL program and baseline project
  • CAP #2-Set citywide goal for increasing EVs and decreasing gasoline sales
  • CAP #3-Expand access to electric vehicle charging for multifamily and commercial properties
  • CAP #4-Reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by 25% or an amount recommended by the Complete Streets Commission
  • CAP #4a-Transportation management association (TMA) formation
  • CAP #5-Eliminate the use of fossil fuels from municipal operations
  • CAP #6-Develop a climate adaptation plan to protect the community from sea level rise and flooding
  • CAP #6a-Menlo Park SAFER Bay implementation
  • Public health advocacy (COVID-19, mental health)
  • Caltrain grade separation
  • Willow Road traffic calming

Deferral of July 2020 wage increases for non-sworn personnel

The City's represented and unrepresented non-sworn personnel partnered with the City in the final stretch budget preparation for fiscal year 2020-21, in which the City experienced a sudden and unprecedented revenue loss due to the pandemic. All non-sworn personnel deferred their contractually negotiated salary increases of 2.9% effective July 2020, reducing the need to lay off additional personnel. The deferral agreement provides that the 2.9% salary increase occurs in June 2021 and is in the baseline budget. The City is in active labor negotiations on successor agreements with unionized personnel.

Budgeting and Accounting Practices

During the process of updating the chart of accounts, the structure for recording all of the City’s financial activity, a number of funds underwent changes to better separate distinct funding sources and their associated expenditures. As a result of many of the following changes, historical comparisons may be somewhat more difficult to analyze, but will increase transparency in future periods.

One-time Revenue Fund

One notable and substantial change is the creation of the One-time Revenue Fund within the General Fund. This change removes major categories of non-recurring revenue from the General Fund baseline in order to allow for associated expenditures to be clearly identified. For fiscal year 2021-22, revenues in the One-time Revenue Fund include unrestricted funds received under development agreements and the stimulus funds anticipated under the American Rescue Plan Act. With this change, the General Fund sees the removal of $1.69 million in revenue compared to prior year 'charges for services' category.

City Services Contribution Fund - 301-309 Constitution Drive Development Agreement 2017 Amendment

During deliberation in the spring of 2021, City Council provided direction to create a separate fund, the City Services Contribution Fund, for development agreement funds received for safety purposes. This special revenue fund includes the revenues from the fourth year of a five-year development agreement as well as the transferred fund balance from the General Fund for unspent funds received in prior years. This change removes $2.43 million of revenue in the charges for services category from the General Fund as compared to prior years. In the fiscal year 2021-22 proposed budget, no expenditures are included in this fund pending additional direction from City Council.

Grant-based childcare funds

The City receives grants from a number of other agencies including the Federal and State governments and local organizations to support childcare. Separate special revenue funds, including the Belle Haven Child Development Center Fund, Big Lift Fund, and Childcare Food Fund, were created in order to associate grant-based revenues with allowable expenditures. Under this change, the General Fund sees the removal of $1.48 million in revenue in the intergovernmental category present in prior years.

Other special revenue funds

A number of other changes were made to special revenue funds in order to better manage revenues and associated expenditures. These funds have traditionally made up a relatively small portion of the budget but now provide greater detail within the budget. No changes to other special revenue funds resulted in a change to the General Fund.

Clarification of pension obligations

With increased functionality afforded by recent budgeting software upgrades, the fiscal year 2021-22 proposed budget includes greater distinction in the categories of expenditures associated with employee pension costs with the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS). These expenditures, categorized under fringe benefits, include:

  • Retirement (CalPERS normal): The costs associated with the current period’s service. These costs are variable according to the authorized staffing levels of the organization.
  • Retirement (CalPERS unfunded liability): The costs associated with already-earned benefits of current and former employees, created as a result of the difference between assumptions and experience within the pension fund. These costs are fixed and unrelated to the level of authorized staffing.
  • Retirement (CalPERS employee pickup): Under agreements negotiated between the City and its organized labor units, a portion of the City’s overall pension costs are borne by employees during their service. These costs are variable according to the authorized staffing levels and presented as a negative expenditure in recognition of the reduction to the City’s pension costs.

Fiscal year 2020-21 budget reductions

The hard choices necessitated by the pandemic prior to the start of fiscal year 2020-21 resulted in a number of fundamental changes to the City organization. These changes included substantial reductions in service in every department and functional area, notably quantified by staffing reductions of approximately 19 percent Citywide. The fiscal year 2021-22 proposed budget does not reverse any of these changes pending additional direction from City Council, and the most material changes in service are summarized by functional area below.

General Administration

Authorized staffing level reductions in the City Manager’s Office and Administrative Services Department reduced capacity for both baseline and project-based work department-wide. Resultant capacity is focused on the most critical tasks and very little additional capacity is available to undertake process improvement initiatives.


Cuts to staffing levels eliminated the dedicated traffic unit, proactive gang and narcotics investigations, daytime parking enforcement, community engagement programs, and reduced police records staffing. These changes have reduced the range of public safety services offered to the community and require some duties to be performed as a secondary priority, such as traffic enforcement.

Library and Community Services

The former Community Services Department and Library Services Departments were consolidated into a single department, in addition to the following operational changes:

  • Elimination of 1.0 FTE department head position
  • Elimination (freeze) of 1.0 FTE management analyst position
  • Reduction in temporary staffing
  • Service reduction of library open hours, books, and e-resources at both library branches
  • Elimination of the gymnastics program
  • Reduction in community special events programming
  • Reduction in public outreach (activity guide, etc.)

During the spring of 2021, 2.0 FTE Library and Community Services Supervisor positions were authorized by the City Council to support childcare, which are included in the baseline fiscal year 2021-22 proposed budget.

Community Development

Inspection services, plan check services, and the elimination of planning vacancies all saw service reductions due to staffing level reductions, and additional contracted services were curtailed during fiscal year 2020-21. At the direction of City Council, 2.0 FTE positions were authorized during the course of fiscal year 2020-21 and are included in the baseline fiscal year 2021-22 budget, but overall staffing levels is nevertheless lower than prior fiscal years. A decrease in staffing resources coupled with an increase in the number of building permits, inspections, and complex development and planning projects has affected capacity and delivery of services.

Public Works

Reductions in staffing and resources in the Public Works department affected a number of program areas starting in fiscal year 2020-21 and are included at their reduced levels for the fiscal year 2021-22 proposed budget, including:

  • Decreased capacity in administration to support customer service, manage grants, and respond to general inquiries
  • Reductions in park and landscape maintenance resulting in less frequent park maintenance, elimination of cleaning at the Nealon Park dog park, and reduced weed abatement
  • Delayed implementation of the enforcement requirements of the heritage tree ordinance provisions that were adopted in fall 2019 and went into effect on July 1, 2020
  • Suspension of fleet maintenance service for partner agencies, delayed vehicle purchases in fiscal year 2019-20 and 2020-21
  • Reduced service levels for streets maintenance (street signs, roadway striping, and non-safety related requests for pavement fixes)
  • Elimination of in-house night-time custodial services and oversight
  • Elimination of the neighborhood traffic management program, reductions in the transportation projects planned for delivery, and the Safe Routes to School and transportation demand management program
  • Reductions in land development engineering, including public right-of-way permit reviews, building permits, and potential increased wait times for development applications
  • Elimination of the holiday tree-lighting program

The fiscal year 2021-22 proposed budget maintains all aforementioned service reductions, except those changes approved by the Council during fiscal year 2020-21 mid-year budget amendments. Additional direction by City Council during the budget consideration process will be necessary to shift the baseline level of services offered if desired.

Service Level Enhancements

Extraordinarily difficult circumstances required the City organization to focus the prior fiscal year's budget primarily on painful service reductions, but the outlook leading up to the start of fiscal year 2021-22 is substantially more optimistic. With the City Council's direction to consider the budget holistically, major programmatic additions for City Council consideration are identified as a list of potential choices. The fiscal impact of each service level enhancement is expressed as a net impact, or the resultant tax subsidy required after considering both expenditures and revenues. At the direction of City Council during the budget adoption process or through future amendments to the adopted budget, these positions may be authorized collectively or à la carte. City Council may use surplus fund balance in fiscal year 2021-22, carryover fund balances from previous years, or use of fund other than the general fund.

Tier 1 service level enhancements

Tier 1 service level enhancements include proposals responsive to interest expressed by City Council through the goal-setting process and their consideration of other reports presented during City Council meetings. Tier 1 service level enhancements are not in the proposed budget. The costs related to personnel are presented as the fully burdened costs of employing additional staff, inclusive of direct wages, retirement and health insurance benefits, and other assorted fringe benefits including other insurances and taxes.

Augmentation of contract-supported capacity in the building division - $0.45 million

The Building Division of the Community Development Department currently uses contract services to supplement the following services: plan check, permit technician, inspection, construction and demolition program, and arborist services. Contracted services are necessary to keep up with public demand and comply with building codes. The Building Division's contract services budget was cut due to budget reductions in fiscal year 2020-21 from $1.4 million to $955,000. The Building Division would like to reestablish the contract services budget. The goal of this action is to be able to fully fund contract services due to the significant increase in permit applications, issued permits and large development revision management.  In 2021 and subsequent years, the Building Division anticipates additional contract service to be used for current and additional workload. In addition, contract services will be used to meet the upcoming staff leave needs that will create a significant gap in service delivery. These contract services are essential for the Building Division to keep up with public demand and comply with building codes. The requested adjustment calls for an increase of $445,000 for a total of $1.40 million in Contract Services for fiscal year 2021-22.

Improved turnaround time for plan check review and building permit issuance - $0.38 million, 3.0 FTE

Since 2020, the building division of community development has experienced a substantial increase in the number of permit applications and issued permits. The number of large and complex projects has increased, despite the pandemic, and City staff anticipate demand for building division services will continue to grow in the next several years. In addition to increased demand, projects are more complex, requiring increased review and management of subsequent revisions. In addition, inspection requests have spiked for large projects. Revisions to issued permits for large-scale projects move extremely fast and involve fast reviews. The City currently has 12 large-scale active projects and five new large-scale projects in the queue for 2021 and a large volume of residential review. The department cannot meet service level goals and expectations with current staffing levels, and demand is only increasing. The city's new land management system, Accela, has allowed certain automation and data collection that streamline some requests; however, the system implementation continues requiring dedicated staff time to learn new processes and procedures. To meet the desire for faster turnaround times in the building division's services, the department requests the addition of three full-time equivalent personnel: 1.0 plan check engineer, 1.0 building inspector, and 1.0 permit technician. If approved, City staff anticipate a six to nine-month lag between City Council approval and measurable improvements in turnaround times.

1.0 FTE plan check engineer - The department requests restoration of staff eliminated as part of the fiscal year 2020-21 adopted budget and has adversely impacted turnaround times for plan check reviews and building permit issuances. The department currently uses remote contract services to perform plan check reviews, which extend review times, ultimately extending permit issuance review times. The request provides sufficient staff to meet current and anticipated service demands successfully. The Building Division expects additional burden with both small and large-scale projects in 2021 and subsequent years. A Plan Check Engineer on staff would benefit the community with timely over-the-counter permit issuance and provide a needed resource for public questions related to the building process.

1.0 FTE building inspector and 1.0 FTE permit technician - The building division's permit and inspection staffing levels are adequate for the number of permits applied and issued in 2019, but not the substantial increase in permits experienced over the past year. A significant increase in large-scale projects anticipated in the next several years will impact permit application workload and permit issuance until Accela implementation is complete. The department requests two FTE to assist with the land management system implementation and process improvements and anticipated increase in large project applications and subsequent building inspections.

Tier 1 service level enhancements continued

Restoration of planning staffing levels - $0.08 million, 0.5 FTE

The community development department requests the addition of 0.5 FTE at the principal planner level to return planning staffing levels consistent with the 2019-20 budget. The additional increment would help retain existing staff, provide flexibility in recruiting, and address the current and projected demand for development and building permit reviews. Planning staff is currently reviewing 9 projects with EIRs, and anticipates several additional large projects in this fiscal year, along with advancing the City Council’s priorities of the Housing Element Update and updates to the ConnectMenlo community amenities.

Heritage tree ordinance implementation and downtown maintenance team - $0.63 million, 5.0 FTE

The public works department requests the addition of five (5.0) FTEs to provide management, administrative and technical support necessary to implement the July 2020 heritage tree ordinance and improve maintenance services in the downtown area. With respect to the heritage tree ordinance implementation, these positions would also allow improved customer service and response times to tree removal or pruning applications. The ordinance put new regulations in place in July 2020, which has created an increased demand to explain regulations and follow up with applicants with questions or concerns on the process. With respect to downtown maintenance, this request stablishes a dedicated maintenance team to enhance services in the Downtown. Currently, a combination of streets, parks and trees maintenance staff support various efforts downtown, including sign installation and maintenance, curb and pavement painting, sidewalk cleaning, lighting, banner installation, and maintenance of the street closures. In order to support economic recovery efforts for downtown businesses and the street closure anticipated to be in place through January 2022, staff has identified the need for a dedicated presence of maintenance staff downtown. The staffing complement includes 1.0 FTE public works superintendent, 1.0 management analyst I/II, and 3.0 FTE maintenance workers I/II.

Resume processing neighborhood traffic requests and improve use of mapping tools - $0.16 million, 1.0 FTE

The public works department requests a 1.0 FTE Associate Transportation Engineer and administrative reclassifications of two authorized FTEs to restore currently suspended services including processing neighborhood traffic requests and better align the positions in the division to support current and anticipated workload as the region recovers from the pandemic, with an emphasis on more mapping and improved tools to communicate work efforts visually. The administrative reclassifications transition an authorized Engineering Technician to Geographic Information System (GIS) Analyst and the Traffic Demand Management Coordinator to a Transportation Planner.

Emergency preparedness collaboration with Menlo Park Fire Protection District - $0.10 million, no FTE

Expand the existing emergency preparedness relationship with Menlo Park Fire Protection District to provide subject matter expertise, training, and guidance on the City's existing emergency preparedness efforts. City staff will work with the Fire District to develop a scope of work and present a memorandum of understanding for emergency preparedness support services for City Council consideration if City Council includes the effort in the budget.

Resident and business services program - $0.43 million, 3.0 FTE

The city manager's office requests 3.0 FTEs to establish a neighborhood and business services program. The pandemic has highlighted the need for a point of contact for residents and businesses to assist with complex interagency services such as public health, homelessness, and economic development. Additionally, the City Manager is often called on to help residents seeking a quicker resolution to their service requests. Delays are, in part, the result of overburdened staff resulting from budget cuts, new processes and procedures resulting from technology upgrades or law changes, and individuals seeking to jump the line. The resident and business services program establishes a clearinghouse for incoming requests, concerns, and complaints with individuals familiar with city operations and services provided by other government and non-governmental agencies. The team will support staff in other departments with customer services, dispute de-escalation, and dispute resolution. The staffing complement includes 1.0 FTE economic development manager, 1.0 management analyst I/II, and 1.0 FTE administrative assistant.

Sustainability staff capacity for climate action plan implementation - $0.15 million, 1.0 FTE

With the adoption of the Climate Action Plan's implementation recommendations by City Council on April 27, the City Manager realigned staff assignments to provide sufficient resources to achieve milestones on CAP No. 1. Additional staff capacity is needed to support City Council direction on CAP No. 5 to eliminate the use of fossil fuels from municipal operations at equipment and machinery end-of-life unless infeasible, including city contractors. The added resource can assist with other CAP projects under the direction of the sustainability manager and provide support to other departments in their work on CAP implementation.

Tier 2 service level enhancements

Tier 2 service level enhancements include proposals to restore some positions eliminated through the fiscal year 2020-21 budget in a new way that is responsive to feedback received from City Council, members of the public, and city staff providing services to the community. Tier 2 service level enhancements are not in the proposed budget. The costs related to personnel are presented as the fully burdened costs of employing additional staff, inclusive of direct wages, retirement and health insurance benefits, and other assorted fringe benefits including other insurances and taxes.

Community-oriented civilian public safety personnel - $0.20 million, 2.0 FTE

2.0 FTE community service officer - The police department requests the restoration of two full-time Community Service Officers (CSOs) assigned to patrol division that were eliminated in the fiscal year 2020-21 budget. The primary duties of CSOs are to provide in-person police services that do not require the presence of a sworn, armed police officer. This provides a more community-oriented and neutral police presence in situations where peacekeeping efforts or arrests are not required. Additionally, Menlo Park's CSOs have served as experts in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) and complex evidence collection tasks such as digital evidence, DNA swabs and fingerprint dusting. CSOs are also important in community engagement opportunities such as National Night Out and assisting the department in processing of Online Police Reports (another strategy to maximize critical crime information through a manner that does not require sworn police response). CSOs provide an opportunity to stay engaged with the community in a manner that provides an expert presence in the field without the appearance of over-policing, while assisting the public safety mission and keeping sworn personnel available for any needed peacekeeping or urgent safety-related response.

Enhanced police record-keeping, data collection, and quality assurance - $0.10 million, 1.0 FTE

1.0 FTE police records specialist - The requested position reestablishes one full-time records position that was eliminated in the fiscal year 2020-21 budget. The addition adequately staffs the department to successfully meet the needs of the community while continuing to undertake the volume of business observed before the onset of the pandemic. Statewide, the movement of offense classifications from the Uniform Crime Reporting standard to the California Incident-Based Reporting System (CIBRS, in compliance with the National NIBRS) quadruples the number of individual offense classifications representing a significant labor impact. Additionally, enhanced police record-keeping for data collection and quality assurance will be required to the mandated Racial Identity Profiling Act (RIPA). The department has begun the steps needed to record and coordinate this new increased reportable information in anticipation of mandated reporting beginning in 2022. An immediate need is anticipated to cover for upcoming staff leave that will create a significant service gap, and ongoing needs related to enhanced public transparency in the future vision of department's community engagement commitment. This addition would also improve the department's response to public administrative and California Public Records Act (CPRA) requests.

Tier 2 service level enhancements continued

Long-term traffic solutions to decrease the frequency and severity of collisions through traffic enforcement - $0.31 million, 2.0 FTE

2.0 FTE police officers - The department requests partial restoration of a dedicated traffic unit cut through the fiscal year 2020-21 budget process. A traffic unit's objective is to support long-term traffic solutions resulting in the education and increased safety of the traveling public. While traffic enforcement itself can be accomplished by any officer, specific attention to collision factors that impact our vulnerable community such as bicycle and pedestrian-related collisions require specific enforcement and education plans as well as dedicated collaboration with other city departments to address the comprehensive education, enforcement, and engineering dimensions required for improvement. The most recent published Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) data shows Menlo Park well below average safety compared to similar cities in bicycle and pedestrian collisions, speed-related collisions, fatal collisions, and hit-and-run collisions. The pre-pandemic traffic unit consisted of four employees including one sergeant, one corporal and two traffic officers. The team was eliminated in the fiscal year 2020-21 budget. The department would like to reestablish a condensed traffic unit by expanding patrol by two full-time employees, allowing two tenured officers to enter into a traffic specialty position. The goal of this personnel addition is to resume seeking out long-term traffic solutions that decrease the frequency and severity of collisions, address the needs of the community, including school zone enforcement, and support the safety of the traveling public. These officers will provide public education on bicycle and pedestrian safety, maintain a direct link to engineering staff, conduct specific enforcement related to high-risk collision factors, and partner with neighboring agencies to bring high-impact enforcement to the most impacted areas of the City.

Restoration of library and community services programs and services eliminated due to pandemic - $0.75 million, 7.0 FTE

The recommended positions provides limited capacity to restore library and community services department programs and services eliminated due to the pandemic.

1.0 FTE librarian I/II - This request will restore capacity to coordinate early childhood literacy services including story times; library book and media collection development for children; school partnerships and joint-use school/public library coordination (Belle Haven Branch); access to library services for children with special needs; and functional supervision and coordination of front line personnel and volunteers.

1.0 FTE library and community services manager - City staff identified a need to bolster management and supervisory resources provided to the childcare program to properly resource the programs with dedicated site supervisors and an unrepresented management level employee to provide the support necessary to run a successful childcare operation serving over 140 children and youth. At their April 13 meeting, City Council authorized the creation of site supervisors, and City staff anticipates hiring those individuals in summer 2021. The site supervisors provide the leadership and program management at the site locations consistent with State licensing requirements. City Council deferred action on the management level position pending the budget. The management level position continues to be a need to support site supervisors, help to guide the program's toward their core mission, and explore opportunities, partnerships, and added resources that would benefit program participants. The library and community services manager is an unrepresented management position and elevates childcare in the city organization to reflect the priority City Council has placed on childcare.

4.0 FTE program assistant - The requested staffing level restores personnel capacity to operate the nutrition/ meal program for older adults; City-run indoor youth and adult sports leagues; weekend and weekday evening recreation center programming; weekend and evening operating hours at Belle Haven Branch Library and Main Library; adaptive programming for children and older adults who have disabilities or other special needs; and related administrative and programmatic support tasks. Two 1.0 FTEs and four 0.50 FTEs.

1.0 FTE senior program assistant - The senior program assistant restores team capacity to organize large-scale community events such as block parties and festivals; cultural, educational, literary, arts and entertainment programs; special event permits; Performing Arts Center and its grants; community engagement and outreach.

Tier 3 service level enhancements

Tier 3 service level enhancements include proposals to improve customer service through the addition of staff in targeted areas including support to make better use of technologies. Tier 3 service level enhancements are not in the proposed budget. The costs related to personnel are presented as the fully burdened costs of employing additional staff, inclusive of direct wages, retirement and health insurance benefits, and other assorted fringe benefits including other insurances and taxes.

Enterprise systems optimization - $0.37 million, 3.0 FTE

The City's information technology division provides network and device access and support to all city employees. The increased reliance of new enterprise systems has struggled due to insufficient resourcing of dedicated staff in the nearly every area.

2.0 FTE enterprise applications support specialist (land management and financials) - The City's implementation of the information technology master plan positioned the City well for greater reliance on technology to facilitate continuity of services during the pandemic. As staff migrates from legacy to new technologies, department-specific business systems require a unique skill set to manage the department's evolving needs. For example, recent policy and process changes such as the heritage tree ordinance, reach codes, and Climate Action Plan have all necessitated adaptations to the land management system. For these projects and more, a dedicated database administrator for the land management software will resource the needed database update or modifications. In administrative services, the migration to a new financial accounting, budgeting, and reporting system similarly require a dedicated resource to support the system's customers. Additionally, the enterprise application support specialists will focus on data integrity and report writing, and coordination with geographic information systems to optimize the utility of the new systems. Additionally, these positions will work with the information technology division to manage business systems’ support contracts, upgrades, feature roll-outs, and security.

1.0 FTE information technology specialist - The library and community services department lost its dedicated information technology support as a result of budget cuts impacting the department's capacity to support, deploy, configure, maintain, and operate essential technology systems including the library enterprise technology platform and automated materials handling system; recreation registration technology platform; public access computers and wifi, and videoconferencing for remote and hybrid community meetings and work.

Financial management organizational resiliency - $0.36 million, 2.0 FTE

The City's administrative services team is strong and has accomplished several major initiatives over the past two years. While strong, the team is vulnerable to loss of institutional knowledge resulting from attrition. The team lost 2.5 FTEs in the fiscal year 2020-21 budget.

1.0 FTE finance and budget manager - The fiscal year 2020-21 budget eliminated the administrative services director position and reassigned duties to existing staff. The finance and budget manager upgraded to serve as assistant administrative services director, and the incumbent assumed oversight of the information technology and finance divisions. The dual role of the assistant administrative services director significantly reduced capacity for important projects such as mentoring and developing the finance team and taking the leadership and management initiative to standardize updated payroll, budgeting, and accounting processes implemented in recent years. In addition, the Finance and Budget Manager would provide the expertise to execute planned upgrades to City financial practices, including enhancements to the budget document and financial statements, additional reporting as requested by the City Council and community, and pursue further value-added process improvements.

1.0 FTE management analyst II - The addition of 1.0 FTE Management Analyst II will restore a provisional position that expired on June 30, 2020 and help with supervision of payroll processing, treasury, and revenue management, including oversight of transient occupancy tax collections, cash receipts, and utility users' tax collections. In addition, the Management Analyst II will provide support to the Finance and Audit Committee as a liaison and support departments with budget-to-actual reporting.

Tier 4 service level enhancements

Tier 4 service level enhancements include non-personnel proposals responsive to inquiries from City Councilmembers and members of the public. Tier 4 service level enhancements are not in the proposed budget.

Budgeting for lower than anticipated investment returns by CalPERS - $1.46 million to $2.95 million

During budget planning in the spring of 2021, the City Council directed the incorporation of a more conservative approach to full pension funding. In prior years, the City used an accelerated pension payment schedule to reduce the unfunded liability and therefore the amount of interest paid. For fiscal year 2021-22, the City Council directed staff to use an alternate method, assuming a discount rate lower than the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) assumption of 7.0 percent. Using a discount rate assumption of 6.5 percent would increase unfunded liability requirements by $1,463,943 across all plans, while a discount rate of 6.0 percent would increase unfunded liability requirements by an additional $1,488,146. An available resource for consideration is the Strategic Pension Funding reserve, currently estimated to be $3.91 million at the start of fiscal year 2021-22.

Gymnastics program delivery options - $0.03 million

Due to the infeasibility of safely delivering this service during the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn, City Council suspended the gymnastics program operations in the fiscal year 2020-21 operating budget. Direction from City Council is needed regarding the desired service delivery model for this program going forward. To support decision-making about the desired service delivery model and to provide City Council with up-to-date information and analysis for comparative purposes, staff recommends a process to seek qualifications and/or proposals from qualified third-party gymnastics operators. A budget of $35,000 allows staff to backfill in-house staff or retain a consultant to issue the requests for qualifications/proposals, collect and analyze the information submitted, and formulate data-driven recommendations for City Council review by October 2021.

Restoration of holiday lighting at City parks - $0.09 million

Since 2013, the City has used a contractor to install holiday lights during the holiday season. The first installation was on the 80-foot Douglas fir tree in Fremont Park for the holiday tree lighting event. The scope of the event, in collaboration with the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce, has expanded since 2013 to include carolers, a movie showing, an appearance by Santa Claus, and a reading of “A Christmas Carol.” In 2014, the scope for holiday lighting expanded to include additional lights in Fremont Park. Since 2014, the scope has grown to include additional locations throughout the City, including downtown, the clock tower at the Caltrain station, trees at the corner of El Camino Real and Ravenswood Avenue, and two trees at the Onetta Harris Community Center. In 2019, the lighting scope was reduced to decrease the cost of the program, focusing lighting on Fremont Park, Onetta Harris Community Center, and the corner of El Camino Real and Ravenswood Avenue. In 2020, due to the pandemic, the budget for this service was further reduced to light only the tree at Fremont Park. This proposal would restore holiday lighting to the level in 2019, with a proposed budget of $90,000.

Restoration of Safe Routes to School services - $0.05 million

The Public Works department requests to restore safe routes to school activities suspended due to the pandemic including the consulting services budget for the Safe Routes to School program from the reduced amount of $45,000 to $90,000 per year. Tasks include continuation of advisory committee including representatives from various schools, community groups, adjacent cities and other stakeholders; preparing community engagement materials to promote the program; assisting with grant writing; planning safety demonstration and biking/walking themed events; developing an educational curriculum and other educational materials. Also restoring the bicycle safety program activities budget of $10,000 for public engagement material. This enhancement totals $55,000 in fiscal year 2021-22.

Authorized staffing levels

The chart below compares authorized staffing levels, expressed as full-time equivalent (FTE) employees as of budget adoption for fiscal years 2019-20, 2020-21, and the proposed 2021-22 budget. Notable changes include the re-authorization of two planning positions in the Community Development Department and two positions in the Library and Community Services Department as well as several reassignments between departments during fiscal year 2020-21. Finally, the proposed budget includes the addition of 0.5 FTE Senior Civil Engineer and conversion from provisional to regular status to support the Menlo Park Community Campus and emergency water supply projects. Click the link in the lower right of the graph below to explore staffing levesl by department, division, and position title.

Revenue and expenditure summaries

The City utilizes fund accounting, separating available resources and expenditures according to their intended use. Charts below present the City Manager's proposed budget for fiscal year 2021-22 in two levels, All Funds, and General Fund.

All Funds

This presentation discusses revenues available and proposed expenditures across all funds, including operating, capital, and special revenue funds with prior year actuals and budgeted expenditures displayed. Users are able to click a report to see a variety of report presentations and drill down to lower levels of planned revenues or expenditures.

General Fund

The largest and most active of the City's funds, the General Fund represents the most discretionary of the City's available revenues and expenditures. Available for a wide variety of uses from recreation classes to public safety and funded by sources ranging from property taxes to franchise fees, the General Fund spending plan represents many of the City's priorities outside capital investment.


The charts presented below are available to view embedded in this page or available through the City's transparency portal. To view the reports on the transparency page, follow the link in the title of each report.

All Funds Revenue