City Council to Get Budget Update By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday December 13, 2005

Berkeley city councilmembers will get a firsthand look at City Manager Phil Kamlarz’s proposal for the additional $1.08 million the city expects to receive in the current fiscal year’s budget. 

With the additional funds, most of which are expected to come from property-based taxes and fees, Kamlarz said the city can continue to fund a series of programs previously slated to be cut. 

“Yes, we can keep them going, but we should hold off on funding anything else, at least until February, when we will have six months of data to look at,” he said. 

Of the $878,564 in recommended expenditures, the largest single item is $250,000 for fuel costs above those included in the original FY 2006-07 budget, followed by $247,000 in back payments to Pacific Gas & Electric to cover costs of street lighting, for which the utility had failed to bill the city earlier. 

The next largest cost, $112,000, would cover unbudgeted costs for agencies in the Veterans Memorial Building. 

Another $100,000 would cover unreimbursed costs for emergency aid during Hurricane Katrina, including costs for housing and providing services for evacuees. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimburses local government for only 75 percent of their costs, Kamlarz said. 

Also included in the funding recommendations are $40,000 for a police crime analyst, $31,000 for BOSS, $24,165 for the civic arts coordinator and additional funding for the Berkeley Boosters BART escorts, Pedal Express, Japanese American Services for the East Bay, the Berkeley Day Time Drop-In Center and the Berkeley NewsScan. 

Kamlarz said the city is concerned that sales tax revenues have remained flat, “and we have to look at innovative ways to retain business in Berkeley,” including possible tax incentives. 

As an example he point to a proposal by Mayor Tom Bates to keep automobile dealers in the city by changing zoning in West Berkeley. 

Kamlarz said automobile manufacturers are pushing for sales locations concentrated together near freeways, and the city may have to chose between accommodating or losing the dealerships. 

Another worry is the possible loss of telecommunications and cable franchise revenues due to strong federal lobbying by telecom companies to exempt their services from local taxation, Kamlarz said. 

Such fees and taxes now make up five percent of the city’s general fund revenues. 

Other items on the council’s agenda include: 

• A new ordinance mandating standards of care for dogs kept outdoors. 

• A $2 increase for fees for birth and death certificates. 

• Consideration of alternatives for amending the city’s by-right home addition ordinance. 

• Conflicting proposals from the city manager and the Parks and Recreation Commission on the enforcement of rules at the Berkeley Skate Park. 

• A proposal from the city auditor for the council to ask the city manager to take measures to address causes and effects of delays in implementing audit recommendations. 

• An update from City Manager Phil Kamlarz on the current fiscal year budget. 

• A new parcel tax to raise $3 million for the warm water pool rennovation and move.l