City Council May Consolidate Commissions to Cut Costs

Related Articles »

  • Printer Friendly Printer Friendly
  • Comments Comments (0)

Hoping to overcome a portion of its forecasted $11 million shortfall for fiscal year 2012, the Berkeley City Council may consider consolidating a few of the city's 27 commissions to alleviate the costs associated with staffing and overlapping objectives, though the true fiscal impact of consolidation remains uncertain.

Although a formal agenda item has not been proposed, the possibility of consolidation has been long discussed by the council, which will likely consider a recommendation to reduce or consolidate some commissions when the city's budget is reviewed on March 22, according to city spokesperson Mary Kay Clunies-Ross.

City commissions - which staff up to 243 volunteers, most of whom are appointed by council members - submit and direct the council on specific recommendations. Each commission specializes in community issues, ranging from the civic arts to homelessness.

Councilmember Gordon Wozniak - who proposed a cost savings consolidation plan in 2003 that was not adopted by the council - said the commissions offer a "valuable service" but expressed concern over the "redundancy" in commission objectives and services.

In April 2005, the city consolidated the Disaster Council and the Fire Safety Commission to reduce meeting frequency and personnel costs. At the time, it was estimated that staff support cost the city $200 per city staff member per meeting. The city clerk's office could not provide an estimate on current costs associated with commission meetings.

"It's been a while since we've done a real analysis," Clunies-Ross said.

The council also cut its Budget Commission partially due to a proposal outlining a 25 percent budget cut across all city departments, including police and fire, according to Councilmember Kriss Worthington. He called the commission "dysfunctional."

Worthington added that previous proposals to consolidate commissions proved financially irrelevant, as they neglected to consider long-term savings - including time - associated with each commission's contribution to the council's agenda.

He also said any consolidation would have to be "productive," suggesting that the council "prune" - and not "chop" - its commissions by reducing costs associated with minute-taking, for example.

"I'm a big fan of the public process," Worthington said. "Berkeley has so many amazing, smart, activist people ... that's something to benefit from hearing their ideas and having them funneled though the commission."

Until a budget proposal is reviewed in the upcoming weeks and finalized at the end of June, commission consolidations is one of many measures the city may consider to offset the deficit.


Yousur Alhlou covers city government. Contact her at [email protected]

Comments (0) »

Comment Policy
The Daily Cal encourages readers to voice their opinions respectfully in regards to both the readers and writers of The Daily Californian. Comments are not pre-moderated, but may be removed if deemed to be in violation of this policy. Comments should remain on topic, concerning the article or blog post to which they are connected. Brevity is encouraged. Posting under a pseudonym is discouraged, but permitted. Click here to read the full comment policy.
White space
Left Arrow
City Government
Image City proposes major cuts to budget
Amid a grim national, state and local economic recovery forecast, the city ...Read More»
City Government
Image Local concern builds over Highway 13 construction
Some community members remain concerned that the ongoing expansion...Read More»
City Government
Image Sit-lie debate focuses on homelessness
Tonanzin Klote sits cross-legged with a feather in her cap and flowers tied...Read More»
City Government
Image Location restrictions could be ahead for Berkeley...
In response to a string of competing drug stores in B...Read More»
City Government
Image Downtown Area Plan takes steps forward
Years of planning, a referendum campaign and ballot initiative later, the m...Read More»
City Government
Image Some customers angered by SmartMeter opt-out plan
After being directed to create a SmartMeter opt-out proposal by th...Read More»
Right Arrow

Job Postings

White Space