Berkeley City Council unanimously approved the city’s budget for the fiscal years 2023 and 2024 during Tuesday’s meeting.
The budget, which is determined every two years, came just days before the June 30 deadline for adoption. Outlined in the budget are hundreds of millions of dollars that the city has earmarked to fund wildfire prevention efforts, temporary homeless housing and several other expenditures.
“I just want to take this opportunity to thank the city manager’s office and our new budget manager Sharon Friedrichsen for developing a thoughtful budget that balances staff, council and community priorities,” said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín at the meeting.
Instructors at Luna Dance Institute applauded the city for allocating $150,000 toward American Disability Act, or ADA, accessible renovations to Luna’s new Southwest Berkeley building. Luna instructor Heather Stockton said it is “imperative” for Berkeley to continue funding accessible and inclusive spaces so that artists can develop their talents.
The budget also provides $25,000 for electric bikes for city employees. Vice Mayor Kate Harrison said she was “really excited” about this program, noting it sets a good example for residents to take advantage of transportation other than cars.
Harrison added that the city will also implement an increased number of dispatch officers, expand the Downtown Street Team to the Gilman and Lorin districts and explore giving community service to offenders instead of fines.
“This budget represents the biggest shift in the way we think about our services in a long time, and it does it in an incredibly cost-effective way,” Harrison said at the meeting. “I can’t say enough about how great this is.”
The new city budget was unanimously approved after several hours of reviewing.
The council also passed the goBerkeley Smartspace pilot program, an initiative geared towards helping alleviate parking issues for employees in the Elmwood and the Telegraph areas.
Gordon Hansen, senior transportation planner for Berkeley, presented issues that workers have in Elmwood and Telegraph, such as having to move their cars every two hours to avoid being ticketed. To alleviate this, the Smartspace program will give a limited amount of residential parking permits to workers, and facilitate transit passes for them as well.
“At a minimum it’s an inconvenience and at times a financial hardship for local merchants and employees, particularly with those with limited space options,” Hansen said at the meeting.
The goBerkeley Smartspace Pilot Program passed unanimously and is set to commence later this summer.