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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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City study recommends updated fees for services

Some city-provided services may soon cost Los Altos residents more money.

A recent cost allocation and fee study recommends increasing charges for several services – from fines for false alarms to block-party permits – provided by the city. In addition, the report calls for a change in the way the city’s Recreation Department establishes some services and its pricing.

The study’s findings were presented June 4 at a special Los Altos City Council meeting. Los Altos Finance Director Russ Morreale said city staff was expected to return to the council Tuesday – after the Town Crier’s press deadline – with specific proposed fee adjustments.

The study noted that the city provides community-supported services, such as public safety, at an annual cost of $28.9 million. The report indicated that the city subsidizes personal-choice services – which are fee-based – by $1.9 million annually, including direct and indirect costs.

Although the study – required by agencies primarily through Proposition 4 – identified approximately $117,000 in potential additional fee revenue through increases and new fees, Morreale said some of the changes were implemented prior to the study’s release.

“The bulk of the recommendations are already in place,” he said.

The recommended fee adjustments include a $5 increase (to $220) for a third false alarm police response for those with alarm permits; the first two are free of charge. The city, according to the report, subsidizes that specific service annually at $129,805.

Other suggested fee changes include an increase from $550 to $585 for police responses to juvenile parties with alcohol, as well as a bump from $105 to $115 for block-party permits. Special event fees – now $1,600 – could potentially increase to $2,045, while fees for ongoing events may rise $50 to $875.

The report recommends establishing Recreation Department service fees using a market-based methodology. According to Morreale, such an approach allows the department greater flexibility to react and adjust programming and subsequently related pricing based on market conditions.

Mayor Jarrett Fishpaw said he believes the switch to a market-based methodology would pay off for the city in the long run.

“I think the more we give, in terms of flexibility, the more we’ll see as a response from our department to reach what they know is our ultimate goal of as close to full cost recovery as possible,” he said.

The report noted that the city recovers 97 percent of the money spent on fee-supported recreation programs, such as health and wellness classes. Community-supported offerings, like teen and senior programs, experience a 15.9 percent direct-cost recovery. Cumulatively, the programs showed a 70.6 percent recovery rate.

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