At its Tuesday meeting, the Berkeley City Council approved and adopted a compromise budget for fiscal year 2017, which requires roughly $1.5 million in reserve funding and partially defunds programs including the Berkeley Drop-In Center and Youth Spirit Artworks.
The meeting started with the discussion of three different budget proposals, including one from Councilmembers Kriss Worthington, Max Anderson and Jesse Arreguin that would provide significant funding for 10 South Berkeley nonprofits and cost a total $5,117,222, as well as a proposal from Councilmembers Laurie Capitelli, Linda Maio, Darryl Moore and Susan Wengraf that would require only $1,458,000 in funds and would not fund South Berkeley nonprofits. The third proposal, introduced by Mayor Tom Bates, struck a middle ground between the two.
More than 60 community members — most of them members or beneficiaries of these nonprofits — spoke during the public comment section to tout the merits and importance of their organizations to the community and ask for greater funding.
“All of the programs in South Berkeley provide services, access and availability to the most disadvantaged people,” said Katrina Killian, the executive director of Alameda County Network of Mental Health Clients and director of the Berkeley Drop-In Center, during public comment.
Many members of the audience held up signs that read “Support the Lifeline budget” and “Fully fund south Berkeley non-profits.” Additionally, members of YEAH!, a homeless shelter for young adults, had signs that said “I say YEAH! to year-round youth shelter because” with a fill-in-the-blank line underneath.
Jaclyn Grant, the executive director of YEAH!, said her organization is the only shelter in Berkeley that exclusively serves young adults but has historically been open for only about half the year. Because of increased funding from the city, the shelter is open through June this year, although Grant seeks enough funding from the council so it can remain open year-round.
The final approved budget provides funding for five nonprofits that were not included in Capitelli’s initial proposal.
“The cuts are not going to be as bad as Capitelli tried to do and that’s a testament to the passionate advocacy from the community,” Worthington said.
Worthington did, however, express frustration that several programs and nonprofits did not receive the funding they requested. He added that the loss of $40,000 in funding to Youth Service America, or YSA, which gives important education, job training and empowerment to teenagers was “mean spirited.”
At the meeting, the council voted to uphold a Zoning Adjustments Board decision to allow the demolition of an 18-unit building at 2631 Durant Avenue. City Council also approved a ballot measure for the Nov. 8 election that could give 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote for school board members.
City Council will next meet at a special meeting July 7 to discuss various agenda items that it did not reach Tuesday, including action on a short-term rental regulation ordinance and amending the city’s reserve fund policy.