Some Berkeley city offices to close two days a month

Some Berkeley city offices will be closed two Fridays a month, as well as the week between Christmas and New Years, under the $318 million city budget adopted Tuesday night by the City Council.

The customer counter at 1947 Center Street, as well as city offices at 2180 Milvia Street, will be closed 29 days in fiscal 2010-2011, compared to 19 days this year.

The extra closures means the city will not have to lay off any workers for the next ten months or so, according to Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, a city spokeswoman. The city council had been considering laying off 77 city employees to help close its $16.2 million deficit.

But the city workers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Public Employees Union Local 1 offered to take additional time off in order to postpone the layoffs.


The workers will work 37.5, rather than 40 hours a week and take extra voluntary time off, according to a city report. Berkeley will also offer incentives for early retirement. Taken together, the city will save $1.19 million a year.

“Employees asked what they could do to defer those layoffs for some amount of time,” said Clunies-Ross. “Everybody’s stepping up to help the city through this budget time.”

This will be the fifth year in a row that city workers have taken voluntary time off, said Clunies-Ross.

“People will not be able to come in and pay a parking ticket on those VTO (voluntary time off) days,” she said. “But you can go on-line and pay it.”

The city will have to return to the budget when state passes its budget. Berkeley runs its own mental health program, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has already announced that the state will reduce by 60% the monies it pays to local entities. Berkeley may lose $1.2 million in state funding, according to a city report.

The City Council will also consider next week raising recycling fees by $3 a month, said Clunies-Ross.

In a related matter, a proposal by Councilman Gordon Wozniak and Kriss Worthington to shift funds from the road and transportation budget to keep the Willard pool open this summer was defeated by the council.


The days some city offices will be closed are: July 9, 23 and 30, 2010; August 13 and 27, 2010; September 10 and 24, 2010; October 8 and 22, 2010; November 12 and 24, 2010; December 10, 23, 27, 28, 29, and 30, 2010; January 14 and 28, 2011; February 10 and 25, 2011; March 11 and 25, 2011; April 8 and 22, 2011; May 13 and 27, 2011; June 10 and 24, 2011.