Jul 28, 2014

Commissioners Say Facebook Plan Inequitable For Schools

Social media company could generate money for city, but not much for schools in Menlo Park.

Commissioners Say Facebook Plan Inequitable For Schools

Facebook moving its to Menlo Park could generate a net of between $73,000 and $166,000 annually for the city, according to a fiscal impact analysis report addressed by the Planning Commission Monday.  

Much of that money could be tax revenue from Facebook employees patronizing local businesses, or from visitors to the company who spend the night in one of the city's , said the report drafted by consulting firm Keyster Marston.

The company may pay as much as $8.55 million to the city in one-time use fees for the impact on facilities such as utilities, personnel, streets and other services, according to the report. 

But despite the size of such figures, not all planning commissioners were thrilled with the report's projections.

Commissioner Katie Ferrick took issue with ones regarding the impact on local education systems, particularly the .

Facebook is expected to generate $309,000 to the , thanks to an increase in assessed property value, according to the report.  However, The location of the campus falls inside the jurisdiction of the Ravenswood City School District, so property tax revenue would not benefit the Menlo Park City School District.

Additionally, Ravenswood is considered a revenue limit district, which is funded by the state government and is not subject to payment fluctuations based on changes in the local tax market.

Ferrick rejected an assumption in the report that very few of the nearly who may work for Facebook in Menlo Park will enlist their children in city schools.

"I feel like the assumptions are incredibly conservative," she said.

The report says Menlo Park is expected to gain nearly 183 new housing units that earn more than $100,000 annually thanks to the Facebook relocation. Ferrick believes a significant segment of that population would send their children to public school in Menlo Park.

In all, the city is expected to gain 666 new residents from the social media titan's relocation. 

 Chief Harold Schapelhouman also declared a need for his department to be reimbursed for the additional manpower, equipment and facilities that will be necessary to sufficiently serve the Facebook campus. The district is preparing a study that will pin down the costs of protecting the new development.

Despite the critiques, not all members of the commission were beleaguered by the report.

Commissioner Ben Eiraf said he was alright with the financial outlook, so long as the company's relocation was not a detriment to the city. 

"Worst case scenario, it's not a lot of additional revenue for the city," he said.

"But it doesn't end up be negative, which is a good thing. There is no scenario that we end up losing money from the general fund."

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