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Council May Delay Report On University Funds Until LRDP is Complete

Tuesday June 08, 2004

Release of the long-awaited report tallying millions in UC Berkeley’s unreimbursed costs to the city will likely be delayed one week, Assistant City Manager Arrietta Chakos said Monday.  

The report’s findings, gathered by the consulting firm Economic and Planning Systems (at a cost, itself, of $50,000), were scheduled to be released at tonight’s (Tuesday, June 8) City Council meeting. However, with UC Berkeley extending the public comment period on its Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) four days until June 18, Chakos said the city might further fine-tune the report and release it at next Tuesday’s meeting. A final Draft Environmental Impact Report for the LRDP is due to go before the UC Regents in November. 

UC Berkeley currently pays the city $500,000 for services including sewers and public safety. 

One long-awaited item that will go before the council Tuesday is a recommendation from the Citizens Budget Review Commission calling for the city to require its workers to pay the employee portion of their retirement costs, rescind its policy to limit layoffs, and demand that unions reopen their contracts before the November election. 

Confusion between commission members and staff kept the controversial recommendation from appearing before the council two weeks ago amid claims that the omission was an effort to keep the politically potent issue away from the council. 

Councilmember Dona Spring called the commission’s recommendation “a reasonable approach,” and said the city should look at it when the union contracts expire. 

Currently the city is demanding that the unions accept a one-year deferral of three percent of their pay increases to help the city close its $10 million budget shortfall. If the unions refuse, the city has threatened to close non-essential city services one day a month to save the needed $1.2 million.  

Also on the City Council agenda is a recommendation from the Transportation Commission demanding that all transportation-related items be referred to that commission. 

Sometimes derided as the “bicycle commission” for its reputation for supporting the interests of pedestrians and bicycle riders over motorists, the Transportation Commission has been kept out of the loop on several key transportation policy initiatives, said Commissioner Wendy Alfsen.  

Last fall, for instance, the council sidestepped the Transportation Commission on a controversial initiative to give free parking spaces near the Ashby BART station for city parking attendants. Alfsen insisted the neighborhood fury over the proposal could have been mollified if the proposal was first discussed at the commission level. 

Councilmember Spring said the City Council has at times deliberately not sent issues to the commission “because they knew they’d raise a fuss.” 

In response to the proposal, City Manager Phil Kamlarz said the city didn’t have enough staff to handle an increased workload. He estimated the proposal would require at least one new employee and more frequent meetings than the current monthly format.