City of Berkeley discusses budget allocations for 2020 based on 2019 results

Josh Kahen/Staff

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On Friday, the city of Berkeley’s Budget and Finance Policy Committee met to discuss recommendations to give to City Council regarding the budget, including allocation of funding from Measure P and Berkeley police presence on UC Berkeley’s campus.

Based on the 2019 Year-End Results, the committee discussed the budget for 2020, including the 2020 First Quarter Budget Update. As part of the 2019 Year-End Results, Measure P creates a tax increase on the transfer of property to be used to fund general municipal services. Public comments for this item expressed concern over what the Measure P funding would cover.

“I ask that Measure P be put to use for homeless services … to be used for these services that aren’t otherwise being provided, like workforce development,” said Downtown Streets Team’s director for the East Bay Julia Lang during the meeting. “There’s wonderful other funding that Measure P goes toward, and I hope to see that utilized.”

Measure P could be used for homeless shelters, navigation centers, mental health support, rehousing, rental subsidies and other services for people experiencing homelessness.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín and City Council members expressed concern over the accuracy of reports on the current homeless population.

“The reality is that homeless families are not living on the street. They are on couches, they are in vehicles,” Arreguín said. “It is not an accurate description of who is living on the streets. We should have one uniform definition.”

The total revenue raised between January and June 2019 from Measure P was almost $3 million. According to the 2018 Election Ballot Measure for the city of Berkeley, Measure P was a transfer tax increase. Therefore, in order for the City Council to spend the transfer tax dollars for noncapital purposes, the City Council will have to change the policy, according to Arreguín.

The committee passed a motion that would send Arreguín’s recommendations to City Council for a discussion, with City Councilmember Rashi Kesarwani’s information sheet added as a supplemental item. The committee elected to discuss a review of City Council’s fiscal policies in a future meeting.

Because of the Berkeley Police Department’s presence on campus during the Ann Coulter protests Wednesday, Arreguín asked City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley whether or not the campus would be billed for the use of city police. He added that the issue is “relevant” given the recent lawsuit regarding the impact of campus over-enrollment on the city of Berkeley.

Williams-Ridley added that during the protest Wednesday, UCPD was also available to the city.

“This is the second time that our city police department has been with UCPD,” Williams-Ridley said during the meeting. “These last two times, it has been a shared resource between the city of Berkeley and the university.”

Contact Nina Narahari at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ninanarahari_dc.