Berkeley now another city facing huge budget deficit

'Most serious' economic downturn he's seen, city manager says

Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz said Monday that his city faces a $14.6 million deficit for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Berkeley adds to the list of California cities facing major municipal deficits in both this fiscal year and even more seriously in FY 2010-11.

Both Dublin and Livermore are dealing with budget shortfalls and Pleasanton has seen its municipal revenue fall significantly, although it has been able to balance its budget for both fiscal years through expense reductions.

Kamlarz attributed Berkeley's budget gap to the economy, declining property and sales tax revenues and other factors.

At a briefing with reporters, Kamlarz said he's seen many economic ups and downs in his 35 years of working for the city but the recent slowdown is the most serious he's seen.

"Most of the time we come back quickly, but not this time," Kamlarz said.

Kamlarz said Berkeley collected $16 million in transfer tax revenue in fiscal 2008 from the sale of properties, but that amount declined to $8 million last year and will stay at about $8 million this year.

He said another problem in the city's proposed $350 million budget is a $4 million deficit in its refuse collection budget.

Berkeley raised its recollection rates by 20 percent last year but Kamlarz said the city is considering increasing them again to help reduce the deficit.

The city also is considering having only one person on each refuse collection truck as a way of saving money, he said. Currently there are two people on each truck.

He's proposing to cut 67 city positions to help balance the budget, at least half of which are currently vacant. He said he wants to minimize the number of city employees who might be laid off.

Kamlarz and the Berkeley City Council will hold a workshop at 5:30 p.m. today to discuss ways to balance the refuse collection budget.

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Like this comment
Posted by kelly
a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Mar 23, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Most City Government of California is operating in the red..

What do you expect? City government is run by tight-knit fiscally irresponsible liberals. The left sees a budget crisis as a defeceit (give me more money!) problem not a fiscal. California city governments and legislation needs to quit approving unsustainable programs that result in bankrupting our city and crippling our state.

California liberal Mayors/city counsels and liberal California legislation will NEVER stop approving unsustainable programs.

What's the solution? Vote the liberal left out of city government, the California Legislature and bring back fiscal responsibility to California.

Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton Mom for Truth
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Kelly, do you remember when Orange County went bankrupt in 1994? Just curious. Before you go spouting off about liberals, you know. The conservatives backed Citron for re-election. Fiscal conservatism can be just as irresponsible when not taken into account in the arena of public services. It's called GREED.

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Mar 23, 2010 at 3:59 pm

nothing new in berkeley...

Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 23, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

What many here may not know is that Berkeley has many local taxes already, parcel taxes, etc. Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by jimf01
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2010 at 8:06 pm

First google result tells you that Citron in OC took some bad bad risks investing OC's money. Fiscal responsibility has two major components, and spending is one of them. Taxing is the other one.

Being a good custodian of the taxpayers money usually isn't an issue, as municipalities mostly will be very conservative with investments

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Mar 24, 2010 at 1:45 pm

oakland has never been "conservative" with taxpayer money...duh...

do you ever tell the truth about anything? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

Like this comment
Posted by Ed
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2010 at 4:06 pm

My sister-in-law is a long time Berkeley resident and she has been meeting with city officials for years regarding irresponsible fiscal decisions. As of less than one year ago they were still reporting no financial problems. All to say the current financial crisis is no surprise to many who live in the city and see the cavalier spending habits. Regardless of political persuasion Berkeley's financial crisis is due to gross over spending and mis-management from the top-down.

Like this comment
Posted by Repleasnacrat
a resident of Stoneridge
on Mar 25, 2010 at 10:38 am

Daniel Borenstien, the last true investigative reporter in the eastbay, has written ad finitum on the issue of unsustainable pensions doled to police, fire and mid management civil servants. Dont get me wrong, I enjoy police and fire protection as much as the next tax payer. But when you have semi rural fire chiefs walking away with huge payouts($250k per annum for life!)....the math doesn't work. Every city will continue to fall as the exorbitant pensions drain the coffers. As city fall these pensions will evaporate. Everyone suffers for benefit of a select few! Hard to believe these guys were rabid union supporters!They sound more like weasel wall street bankers of the go go 2000's. Google daniel borenstien! His stuff is enlightening

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