City's Infrastructure Report -- Let's do the ARITHMETIC and Get It Done!

The City Infrastructure report categorized the "Infrastructure Deficit" as in several categories like "Catch up", "Keep Up", "Special Projects" or replacement needs, and then there are prudent reserves for future needs. We all know that things don't "wear out" all at once, but we do know with some precision the "useful lives" of those assets and setting up prudent reserves for the day they do break is a common business practice.

Whether the "Deficit" is $300 million or $400 million does not change the need for fundamental change in the City's budgeting and spending.

Last year the budget did make room for setting aside $2 million for future reserves, but we need to do more. Perhaps $6 million would be a start. We need to roll out the data that compares Palo Alto with other cities, and trim to those levels. There are assertions that Palo Alto has management costs greater than cities twice its size. The size of our unfunded Healthcare benefits and Pension cost may offer greater surprises as we dig deeper.

Like him or not, Bill Clinton said it best: "It's arithmetic!" Collectively we need to say: "Show me the numbers."

Sure, belt-tightening is painful, and it does not make friends, but it is essential that we make financial balance our number one priority. Pushing the problem off to the future with a bond measure only creates greater deficits. Let's get the job done. The sooner the better.

Timothy Gray
The Web Link to the City Report is: