Berkeley City Council Adopts Fee Resolutions to Combat Deficit

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To combat a projected deficit of $16.2 million next fiscal year, the Berkeley City Council adopted three out of four fee resolutions in a meeting Tuesday.

The adopted fee resolutions will generate about $107,605. The city's overall budget plan is expected to reduce expenditures by about $11.9 million and relies on $4.3 million in new revenues. Proposed taxes and fees, such as the recycling diversion fee, will generate the rest of the funds.

The adopted resolutions implement increased or new fees - all of which are effective July 1 - for the Residential Preferential Parking Program, Public Health Clinical Services and Environmental Health Division.

The parking resolution will generate about $83,605 in new funds through a 14 to 15 percent increase in fees for parking permits such as annual residential and in-home care, semi-annual residential and in-home care, one-day visitor, 14-day visitor, community-serving facility and merchant permits.

Under the resolution, the annual residential permit fee will increase from $30 per year to $34.50.

"Even with these changes ... Berkeley's proposed annual residential permit parking fees are still less than Oakland's and dramatically less than San Francisco's," Councilmember Kriss Worthington said. "It's still a very reasonable price."

The parking resolution also establishes a $10 permit replacement fee and a semi-annual permit fee.

Council members approved the Public Health Clinical Services resolution with little discussion, saying a 4.3 percent increase in clinical fees was small. The increase will bring in an estimated $3,000 in new revenue for the next fiscal year.

The Environmental Health Division, which administers local state-mandated public health programs, will undergo a 3 percent fee increase to cover cost of living adjustments of fee-supported environmental health programs, raising approximately $21,000 in additional revenue, according to the resolution report.

Though city budget projections have not changed since their initial May 4 presentation to the council, City Budget Manager Tracy Vesely said the budget plan will likely undergo revisions before being adopted June 22 due to ongoing discussions with unions and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's revised state budget proposal released Friday.

"Everyone has been scrambling over the weekend to analyze the contents of the May revision and really, from my perspective, to see what those impacts are to city government," she said. "We may be in for a long budget discussion over the next few months."

Vesely added that there are some state cuts that will not affect the budget plan because the city's state funding is largely composed of public and mental health programs and transportation funding.

"Many of those programs are at the county level so some of those cuts ... may not be direct cash impacts to the city, but obviously there's a myriad of indirect impacts," she said. "The state budget includes an almost 60 percent reduction in the state mental health realignment funds and based on our current revenues that would be about a $1.2 million loss of revenue to our mental health programs."

Vesely added that if the revised budget is adopted by the state, the city will have to rework its budget to fund its mental health programs.

The council supported a substitute motion to revisit the fourth fee resolution for the Permit Service Center at the next council meeting June 1.

The resolution proposes fee increases for building and safety, land use planning, engineering and traffic engineering permits and projects to generate $200,000.

As the meeting neared four hours, council members said they needed more information and further discussion in order to decide whether to pass the resolution.

"I don't understand it enough to vote on this tonight," Councilmember Linda Maio said. "On the face of it, it is a bit alarming to me."

Tags: BERKELEY CITY COUNCIL, 2011 FISCAL YEAR


Stephanie Baer is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected]



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