City Council may raise most parking fines by 30 percent Tuesday in an effort to offset next year’s $4.7 million budget deficit.
The parking fine increases are expected to raise an extra $2 million for the city’s general fund. The remainder of the deficit is being made up by a city hiring freeze and restricted spending policies on expenditures such as travel and cell phones.
The city issues approximately 240,000 tickets annually, generating about $6.5 million in parking citation revenue. The annual cost of parking enforcement staff and administration is roughly $3.5 million.
According to a report by the City Manager’s Office, the new parking fines will be comparable to other Bay Area municipalities. For example, if the council approves the increases, parking meter violations will jump from $23 to $30, equal to Oakland’s fine. San Francisco is currently considering a $5 increase to $35 in most areas and $40 downtown.
Nearly all of Berkeley’s 135 parking fines are included in the proposed hike. Those that will remain unchanged include $275 fines for disabled zone violations and $250 fines for bus zone violations.
Library Tax Increase Proposal
Berkeley Public Library officials plan to ask City Council to increase the library tax by 36 percent. The request will be made during a 5 p.m. special meeting Tuesday.
The council will vote on the increased library tax when it votes on the city’s overall budget on June 17.
According to the Library Tax Act, the city can raise the library tax according to two revenue streams, the Consumer Price Index, which is about 3 percent a year, or the California Personal Income Growth Index, about 4 percent a year. In recent years the library hasn’t increased the tax by the full amount it was entitled to and now wants to retroactively raise the tax.
“We think of the money very much as a banking account,” Library Director Jackie Griffin said. “You don’t take out all of it because you don’t need it. You save it for a rainy day, and if ever the library was facing a rainy day, it’s now.”
The tax increase will raise total library revenues from $11.2 million to $14.5 million, which will allow the library to maintain operation hours, update materials and pay for $650,000 in increased employee benefit costs due to union contracts the city recently negotiated.
According to Jorge Garcia, chair of the Board of Library Trustees, library officials have struggled to keep costs down since opening the renovated and expanded Main Library. “We have experienced a 65 percent increase in usage in a library that’s twice as big as it used to be, with the same number of staff,” he said.
Commute Store Closing
The City Council is also scheduled to vote on paying UC Berkeley $129,000 to cover administration costs of the Berkeley TRiP Commute Store, which is closing its doors on June 27.
The city and UC Berkeley opened the store in 1987 with the aim of reducing traffic congestion through increased access to public transportation and ridesharing.
TRiP sold more than 110,000 transit tickets and fielded more than 50,000 ride sharing inquiries a year.
According to city staff, the store was losing money and it was no longer feasible to keep it open in the face of expected state budget cuts.
City transportation planners said the city is considering placing a transit pass vending machine in City Hall. The machine would distribute both BART and AC Transit passes.
For information about obtaining transit passes contact AC Transit at (510) 891-4700 or visit their Web site at www.actransit.org. Or Call BART at (510) 464-7133 or visit their Web site at www.bart.gov/.