Council members may give themselves $2,000 allowances

Palo Alto City Council’s Contingency Fund has, in the past, paid for veterinarian bills for the two donkeys who live at Bol Park, road signs and retirement parties of city employees. In this Dec. 6, 2018 Post file photo, City Manager Jim Keene speaks at his retirement party as city spokeswoman Claudia Keith, left, and Mayor Liz Kniss look on.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Palo Alto City Council will consider giving each of its members $2,000 a year to spend how they see fit each year.

For example, council members could give grants to community groups, reimburse themselves for official travel or fund community events, Deputy City Manager Chantal Gaines said in a report to council.

Council members wouldn’t be allowed to spend the money on political campaigns or personal expenses, Gaines said.

The Policy and Services Committee will discuss the idea on Tuesday (Feb. 13).

Council already has a $125,000 contingency fund that is set aside for smaller projects that may come up throughout the year.

Expenses are approved by the mayor and vice mayor if they’re under $10,000, and by the full council if the request is over that amount.

In the past, the fund has been spent on employee retirement parties, road signs, town hall meetings and veterinarian bills for two donkeys that live at Bol Park.

Last year council spent $1,000 on a Chinese moon festival and $3,000 to show a documentary at Palo Alto High School that was about the pressures students face at San Francisco’s elite Lowell High School.

The money can’t be spent on mass mailings or for specific religious purposes, Gaines said.
The city’s contingency fund is relatively small compared to the $1 million that the San Mateo and Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors gets to spend in each of their districts.

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