The Lowdown: Berkeley council on budget, elections, minimum wage, new emergency response boat

Berkeley began using automated single-operator garbage trucks as a cost-saving measure in late 2012. Photo: City of Berkeley

Berkeley began using single-operator garbage trucks to save money in late 2012, but a fee increase is still needed. Photo: City of Berkeley

On May 20, the Berkeley City Council is scheduled to finalize its plans to raise the minimum wage, set its November 2014 election plans in place, and hold a public hearing on the city budget. There’s also a special session at 5:30 p.m. on charity care and community benefits at Alta Bates. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see how to weigh in, even if you can’t attend.

On the action calendar

Council is set to hold public hearings related to the upcoming fiscal year’s budget (Item 28) and consider fee adjustments, including a 25% garbage fee hike (Item 27). Read more about the city budget and garbage fees on Berkeleyside.

Proposed ballot measures for November (Items 33-34), a new location for council meetings (Item 31) and a new median garden project on Sacramento Street (Item 32) are also set for possible action. Proposed ballot measures include a soda tax and a parks tax and bond. Read more about the November 2014 election.

Councilmen Jesse Arreguín and Laurie Capitelli have also submitted an item that would allow voters to create an independent redistricting commission in November (Item 35), and Councilman Kriss Worthington is pushing a proposal for a measure related to publicly financed elections (Item 36).

Other items of interest

On consent: The council is set to approve on second reading its new minimum wage ordinance (which Berkeleyside covered earlier this month) and authorize up to $150,000 to help the city buy an “emergency response boat.” See the full consent calendar here.

Information reports: Berkeley is set to receive a good chunk of money from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission for Bay Trail improvements, and the city is looking at a possible new zoning designation — in line with state legislation — to encourage urban farming.

One special session

At 5:30 p.m., public health staffers will present a report to explain requirements tied to Alta Bates Summit Medical Center’s tax-exempt status, with a focus on the facility’s community benefits and charity care provided to Berkeley residents. The report is a follow-up to a July 2013 report before council during which city officials wanted more information on those efforts. Read the full report here.

Meeting details

Follow live tweets of the Berkeley Council meeting by clicking the image above. Join in by tagging your tweets #berkmtg.

Follow live tweets of the Berkeley Council meeting by clicking the image above. Join in by tagging your tweets #berkmtg.

The Berkeley City Council meets Tuesday nights at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Special sessions generally take place at 5:30 p.m. and regular meetings begin at 7 p.m. Council agendas are available online here. Watch the meetings online here.

Berkeleyside often covers council meetings live on Twitter. Others sometimes do the same and the discussion can get spirited. Follow council coverage on Twitter via hashtag #berkmtg. Follow along in real-time here, and tag your tweets with #berkmtg to join in. You do not need a Twitter account to follow along. Just click here.

Council-related Twitter handles:
@LindaMaio (District 1)
Darryl Moore @BerkCouncil (District 2)
@JesseArreguin (District 4)
Laurie Capitelli @berkcap (District 5)
Kriss Worthington @k__worthington (District 7)
Gordon Wozniak @Gordon_Wozniak (District 8)

Learn more about the Berkeley City Council and how to connect with local representatives via the city website.

Has something else on the agenda caught your interest? Let us know in the comments.

Berkeley council on minimum wage, Tasers, ballot measures, budget, pedestrian safety (05.06.14)
Berkeley council on redistricting, drones, affordable housing, mini-dorms, more (04.29.14)
Berkeley council on minimum wage increase, mini-dorms, ballot measures, more (04.01.14)
Berkeley council hears crime report, Aquatic Park plans, new Comal project appeal, more (03.25.14)
Berkeley council on Starbucks, redistricting… global warming warning labels? (03.11.14)
Berkeley council on redistricting, garbage fee hike, budget, pensions, false alarms, more (02.25.14)
Berkeley council on parks funding, 2014 elections, youth on drugs, rodent infestation (02.10.14)
Berkeley council on historic overlay, mini-dorms, violence prevention, 2020 Vision (02.28.14)

Get the latest Berkeley news in your inbox with Berkeleyside’s free Daily Briefing. And make sure to bookmark Berkeleyside’s pages on Facebook and Twitter. You don’t need an account on those sites to view important information.

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  • EBGuy

    Anybody else vote NO on the garbage fee increase?

  • Guest

    One item being discussed under the city’s FY15 budget this evening is funding for Berkeley Animal Care Services (BACS). BACS could be facing a shortfall of as much as $100,000 between the city’s proposed budget and BACS’ actual expenses.

    As a long-time BACS volunteer (at both the old shelter and the new one), I can say without hesitation that BACS staff does the best it can with already limited resources. These potential cuts could seriously and significantly impact the services that it currently provides, including answering calls in the field, responding to public inquiries, overseeing adoptions, caring for animals, and many other tasks that are so important to the well-being of the animals at BACS.

    If the city doesn’t budget the money necessary to operate BACS, the bills still have to be paid, and the shelter will have to find savings somewhere. A very possible outcome is that BACS would have to consider closing its doors to the public — providing emergency services only — for one or more days a week. This could lead to fewer animal adoptions, more crowded kennels, and a higher euthanization rate.

    Please consider attending the council meeting this evening to voice your support for a fully funded BACS budget!

  • Silence Is Not Consent!

    Yes, and convinced several neighbors to do the same.

    Still, it’s quite frustrating the way that silence is treated as consent on that issue and someone who doesn’t return the signed form counts as an automatic “YES” vote in favor of the increase.

  • There is no way that we should be charged more for our garbage pickups. We already pay too much, as it is. Years ago, we were told that when the city started selling recyclables, that we would pay less for garbage pickups. Where does all this money from the sale of recyclables go?

    Or, was the City just selling us another bill of goods?

  • Accountability Please

    you mean the facility we spent waaaaay too much money building? The one that went waaaaay over its construction budget?

    Here’s an idea: triple or even quadruple the charges for services to residents of Albany, who get *exactly* the same services as Berkeley residents for a fraction of the cost. Double or triple the charges for services to residents of Piedmont and Emeryville, who get most of the services as Berkeley residents for a fraction of the cost.

    Trace the paperwork back to the city employees who proposed those sweetheart deals for Albany, Piedmont, and Emeryville and fire them. Redirect the savings to program operations.

  • People need to pay their fair share for throwing everything away. Recyclers should be rewarded with less expensive and smaller waste cans.

  • TN

    Can you tell us on what basis you think that Albany, Piedmont and Emeryville are being undercharged? I am asking this neutrally without preconception.

  • Stink bottom

    WTF are we going to do with a $600,000 boat, aside from paying a grown up adolescent $200,000 a year to operate it? Take this and all FEMA money and give it back. If Bush’s administration were trying to give this town all this urban warfare money you people would be up in arms.

  • batard

    Tired of this incessant militarization of our communities, driven down from the federal level.

  • JudgeBork

    the measure passed because only 14% responded. total garbage!

  • guest

    Recyclers? Do you mean the thieves who are stealing the recyclables out of the city containers and causing this price increase?

  • guest

    What did any of us honestly expect? The “vote” was completely rigged – designed in such a way that it was guaranteed to pass since a response card that got lost in the mail or accidentally thrown in the trash would automatically count as a “yes” vote in favor of the increase.

    Between crap like this and the recent attempts at overturning popular measures through misleading petitions Berkeley’s government is making a mockery of the democratic process.

  • guest

    A public safety response boat isn’t a military vehicle.

    But I agree that it is a complete waste. Berkeley is not some waterfront community which needs an aquatic police force. If some sailor on a schooner gets in trouble on the bay, let the Coast Guard handle it. Why set up redundant agencies that will end up clashing in the event of a real disaster?

  • guest

    You are saying that Albany etc. should pay the same average cost per household as Berkeley, ignoring the marginal cost.

    If the amount they pay is less than the marginal cost of the services they use, then Berkeley makes money on the deal. If Berkeley insisted that they pay the average cost and they dropped the deal rather than paying the extra, Berkeley taxpayers would have to pay more than we do now.

    I don’t know if they pay the marginal cost, but if you are going to criticize the deal, you have to look at marginal cost and revenue. Your figures on average cost are irrelevant.

  • guest

    Let’s think about what he means by “recyclers.”

    Does he mean that the poachers who steal recyclables should be rewarded with smaller and less expensive waste cans? What would the poachers do with them?

    Or does he mean that residents who have less trash because they do a lot of recycling should be rewarded with smaller and less expensive waste cans? Makes sense that they would need smaller cans because they produce less waste.

  • TN

    Another way of looking at the issue is to consider that the bond payments are being used to pay for the acquisition of the property and building the shelter. Whether or not the contracts with other cities are continued, the City of Berkeley will own the real property. The other cities will have no property interests.

    So other cities should pay an imputed rent, but they shouldn’t be charged as if they are acquiring a property.

  • Disgusted by the state

    Speaking of waste, did you see that the city is going to spend $480,000 to install 12 – 240 volt charging stations around town? I just installed 2 of these at a project in Berkeley for a grand total of about $5000. What’s that splashing sound you hear? Money being pissed away by unaccountable state actors.

  • If you were a disabled person who depended on both a power wheelchair and ventilator, like I do, you would probably welcome this. These charging stations, in the event of an earthquake or some other type of disaster that caused power outages, will literally be lifesavers for most of us.

    Even though medical suppliers supply us with backup batteries, these are usually only good for about 12 hours at best. Since it is estimated that power outages caused by earthquakes could last as long as 3 or 4 days, how are we supposed to stay alive without some way to recharge our life-giving batteries?

    However, I will agree with you that this price tag of $480,000 does sound rather excessive. On the other hand, if it saves the lives of people who are dependent on some type of battery power to survive, such as, disabled and seniors, doesn’t that make it more worth it?

  • I meant regular people going to get their deposit back.