In the first of several scheduled city council working sessions on ways to balance Berkeley’s beleaguered budget, City Manager Phil Kamlarz has recommended four immediate sources of new revenue that, if implemented, could bring in as much as $3.8 million a year to the city. Kamlarz made the proposals at last week’s city council meeting. The city manager has set an April 20 public hearing on the new fees.
Between now and June, the city council must come up with a combination of tax increases and budget cuts to make up for a projected $10 million shortfall in the upcoming 2004-05 fiscal year budget.
The largest proposed new fee would be the implementation of a $2 to $3 a year safety dispatch tax—the so-called “911 Fee”—on Berkeley land lines and, possibly, Berkeley-based cellphones as well. City manager staff members stressed that the fee would not be imposed on individual 911 calls. The safety dispatch fee is projected to bring in $3.7 million a year.
Significantly less revenue would be generated from elimination of seismic fee waivers, elimination of community service as an option for parking citations, and adding a $2 fee for certain transactions (such as the paying of parking fines) over the Internet.
Kamlarz has scheduled discussion for a later date of possible taxes requiring voter approval. That would include a tax on each vehicle above two in Berkeley households, a payroll tax on all employers in Berkeley, including (and maybe especially) UC, and a local sales tax increase.
—J. Douglas Allen-Taylor?