Preview of Tuesday's Berkeley City Council Meeting

By Charlotte Perry-Houts
Sunday January 16, 2011 - 01:01:00 PM

After a long holiday recess, Berkeley's City Council is preparing for its first meeting in over a month. The agenda for Tuesday's meeting begins with a 5:30 p.m. worksession on dealing with the City's unfunded liabilities, comprised of guaranteed employee benefits that the City does not actually have the money to pay for, including pension funds, worker's compensation, and vacation payouts. The City Manager's report lists the value of these unfunded liabilities to be about $252.81 million. The workshop will be based on a report from City Auditor AnneMarie Hogan. 

Unfunded liabilities aside, the Consent Calendar for the regular meeting at 7:00 includes an ordinance to establish a fund of $20,000 per fiscal year to pay for a portion of the costs for sex reassignment surgery for city employees. The Consent Calendar also includes a $50,000 lawsuit settlement over an injury caused by a trip on an uneven sidewalk, along with specifications for the FY 2011 Emergency Sidewalk Project. Other Consent Calendar items include early bird policies and fees for the Center Street and Telegraph/Channing parking garages, the extension of the 9th Street Bicycle Boulevard, a sewer project, and a resolution to allow the North Berkeley branch of the Berkeley Public Library to build encroaching upon the public right of way. 

Council Consent items include a series of re-appointments (and a few different ones) of council members for various committees. Most appointments are to remain unchanged. Councilmember Susan Wengraf is seeking appointment to the Association of Bay Area Governments with the blessing of Mayor Tom Bates, even though Councilmember Kriss Worthington, the current alternate appointee, would like to move up to the regular position, Councilmember Anderson's appointment as an alternate to the Joint Powers Agreement – East Bay Sports Field Recreation, and Councilmember Worthington's appointment to the Oakland Airport Noise Forum are two proposed new posts. 

Councilmembers will pledge up to $300 each from their discretionary Council Office Budgets for the Berkeley Public Libraries Foundation's 9th Annual Author's Dinner. They are also recognizing and celebrating Berkeley High School's RISE program (Responsibility, Integrity, Strength, Empowerment). 

On the Action Calendar is the Community Workforce Agreement, which would establish regulations for unions and contractors regarding hiring practices and labor disputes for projects in Berkeley worth more than $ 1 million. Contractors would have to give at least 30% of the hours involved in their projects to Berkeley residents, and would have to hire within the unions' referrals. The unions, on their part, would be expected not strike, picket, or create work stoppages. Contractors would contribute ten cents per hour of labor worked to the local hiring program. 

There are two information reports on the agenda: one on Temporary Employee Extension, and one regarding the risk of overpayment and lack of inventory controls in public works contracts. The agenda also includes a ZAB appeal refuting the Board's decision to allow the North Shattuck Safeway to remodel, expand, and extend its hours.