Some city programs may see several thousand dollars head their way after the Berkeley City Council considers the allocation of $36,000 in general funds at its meeting Tuesday.
When the council adopted a biennial budget June 28, it also discussed the placement of $45,000 that was made available after it was declined by a city program. Of that amount, only $9,000 was allocated at that time in order to allow the council and city staff more time to review the proper direction for the money because the council was only made aware of that funding at the meeting.
According to Jane Micallef, the city’s housing and community services director, the Youth Engagement, Advocacy and Housing program decided not to accept the money it would have received from the city, because it determined the amount was not sufficient.
Through the Public Commons for Everyone Initiative, the foregone money would have funded a YEAH program providing case management to homeless youth, Micallef said. The initiative was passed by the council in 2007 and aims to improve the city’s common areas through a number of different policy measures, including expanded housing opportunities, a centralized homeless intake system and increased support for youth ages 18 to 25 at risk of becoming chronically homeless.
But the council was not prepared to allocate all of the money immediately. It instead opted to give the Stonewall and Cinco de Mayo festivals $5,000 and $4,000, respectively, and consider the remaining $36,000 July 19.
Now, the council will consider a recommendation from City Manager Phil Kamlarz, who has proposed allocating $9,000 to homeless services and $27,000 to services in South Berkeley, including $14,000 for the Black Infant Health Program, which provides free counseling and referrals to health services, among other types of assistance, to pregnant and parenting African American women.
“I think South Berkeley is definitely underserved, so any more money we can put toward services in South Berkeley is a good thing,” said Councilmember Jesse Arreguin.
The city manager’s recommendation incorporates part of the budgetary allocations proposed by Councilmember Max Anderson at the June 28 meeting. Under Anderson’s proposal, a total of $264,000 would have been allocated to 17 city programs, but the approved proposal from Mayor Tom Bates and Councilmember Linda Maio funded only some of those programs about $114,000.
Though the city manager has proposed a mostly general recommendation for the allocation of the remaining funds, it is up to the council’s discretion to determine the specifics of where the money should go.
Arreguin said he planned to consult Anderson because the recommendation would place a large portion of the funds to services in his district, but that there are programs throughout the city that could benefit from additional funding.
“We have so many additional agencies we can fund that were cut, and is it best to put that money toward services just in South Berkeley?” Arreguin said. “There are lots of different agencies we could fund … that need the money.”
J.D. Morris is an assistant news editor.