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Concern over city’s fiscal planning

Steven Donaldson
Monday October 21, 2002

To the Editor: 


How can you grow your expenses and expenditures and decrease your income? Well, the city of Berkeley and in particular the City Council thinks there are unending depths to the city’s financial coffers even with continued projected budget deficits. The council had no problem with a recent 28 percent increase in city employee salaries and continued expenditures on dozens of special studies such as the unearthing of Strawberry Creek.  

Then there is the mismanagement of resources. Statistically speaking, Berkeley has almost 50 percent more employees of any city its size in California (about 1,600 vs. 1,000) and the same number of commissions as New York City. As far as I know there is no auditing function for departments, no progressive disciplinary treatment for employees, no centralized purchasing for all departments to get the best prices. There is a no layoff policy – how can you justify payrolls with no revenue? 

The council refuses to outsource many services. Outsourcing has been shown by other cities to be more efficient use of resources, but you can’t do that because it’s politically incorrect. And then there are all the boycotts on goods and services the city can’t purchase. It’s almost to the point the city can’t buy gas for its own vehicles. All these areas must cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in waste. 

But must I go on? Let’s look at the council. Almost all of the council folks do not have jobs, don’t have kids and live out of a political ideology rather than identification with the regular folks like me who live here, work here, pay taxes, have kids in public school and actually want city services to improve. Let’s just ask this one question – does the city actually exist as a adjunct to the council’s special political and doctrinaire interests or is it actually here to provide services for the citizens of Berkeley? 

Remember this when you go to the polls in November and look carefully at who you elect because things are going to get a lot worse in Berkeley in the next two years as the city must deal with the realities of less money and astronomical deficits. 


Steven Donaldson