Old City Hall. Photo by Melati Citrawireja
Both the special meeting and the regular council meeting will be held in Old City Hall. Photo: Melati Citrawireja

A 5:30 p.m. special session tonight, before the regular Berkeley City Council meeting, focuses on the city’s hiring practices. Then, at the regular 7 p.m. Feb. 23 meeting: continuing discussion on potential ballot measures for the November election, the mid-year budget update, proposals to use surplus transfer tax revenues for parks capital projects, a proposal for publicly financed local political campaigns, the audit report on the city’s general fund reserve. Scroll down to see how to follow live meeting coverage and participate from afar.

Personnel policy items at the special meeting

The special meeting focuses on Berkeley’s personnel policies, with three items that were spurred by complaints from the local NAACP on hiring policies and a subsequent report from consultants Mason TillmanThe Personnel Board’s 76-page review of policies puts forward 11 process-oriented recommendations. An update on the city’s action plan reports that most of the plan has been completed. Finally, the main points of the audit report on personnel best practices, which was approved unanimously on consent by the city council on Jan. 19, 2016, will be presented.

Action calendar

MID-YEAR BUDGET UPDATE The city is in the middle of the first year of its fiscal years 2016-17 biennial budget cycle (the two-year budget was approved in June last year). The update reports that revenues are up $3.4 million and expenditures are slightly below projections — which included some carryover costs for some projects and programs that were not completed in FY2015. City staff recommend the council approve a further $300,000 from the general fund for the UC Theatre project ($150,000), the Kala Art Institute ($100,000) and the Bay Area Book Fair ($50,000).

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Park officials propose using some transfer tax surplus for park capital projects, including improvements to San Pablo Park

TRANSFER TAX SURPLUS The council will consider proposals for spending some of the current transfer tax surplus on capital improvements in the parks. In its FY2016-17 capital improvement program budget, the city council agreed to a policy of treating transfer tax revenues in excess of $10.5 million as one-time revenue, available for one-time expenditure. The Parks & Waterfront Commission proposes that $2 million from surplus transfer tax revenues be allocated in each of the next three fiscal years for eight named capital improvement projects, including the James Kenney Park basketball and tennis courts, the San Pablo Park tennis courts, Rose Garden improvements, and Willard basketball courts, play structure and picnic area.

PUBLICLY FINANCED CAMPAIGNS The Fair Campaign Practices Commission recommends that the council adopt a proposal for a ballot measure to change the city charter to allow public financing of campaigns for mayor and city council. The proposals originated with Berkeley-based MapLight and the League of Women Voters. If passed, $4 per Berkeley resident per year would be allocated from the general fund to a Fair Elections Fund (the total in the fund would not exceed $2 million). Mayoral and city council candidates would receive 600% of the amount they had raised in qualified contributions (defined in the proposal as individual contributions of $50 or less from Berkeley residents). Mayoral candidates could receive up to $120,000 and council candidates up to $40,000.

RAINY DAY FUND The city auditor recently issued a report calling for revamped policies for the city’s general reserve fund. The council will consider whether to increase the reserve fund policy from its current 8% of general fund revenues to the audit-recommended 16.7%, and whether to adopt more detailed policies on reporting on the fund, releasing money from the fund, and replenishing the fund in future.

CONTINUED FROM EARLIER MEETINGS Council will continue its discussion of potential ballot measures for the November election, and provide guidance for the city manager on issues to include in a community survey.

The consent calendar includes a call for city staff to prepare details of a major revision of the city’s affordable housing mitigation fee (raising the the required percentage of affordable units to 20% from 10%, and raising the in lieu free from $28,000 to $34,000), a proposal for citywide “hours of operation” for large construction projects, a proposal for permanent public restrooms in all parks with one or more acres, a look into the feasibility of using eminent domain on vacant and blighted properties, and a proposal to ban city employees from serving on boards and commissions.

Meeting details

Follow live tweets of the Berkeley Council meeting by clicking the image above. Join in by tagging your tweets #berkmtg.
Follow live tweets of the Berkeley Council meeting by clicking the image above. Join in by tagging your tweets #berkmtg.

Berkeleyside often covers council meetings live on Twitter. Others sometimes do the same and the discussion can get spirited. Follow along in real-time, and tag tweets with #berkmtg to join in. The Berkeley City Council meets at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The special session starts at 5:30 p.m. and the regular meeting begins at 7 p.m. You do not need a Twitter account to follow along. Just click here.

Council agendas are available online. Watch the meetings online.

Council-related Twitter handles:
@MayorTomBates (Mayor)
@LindaMaio (District 1)
Darryl Moore @BerkCouncil (District 2)
@JesseArreguin (District 4)
Laurie Capitelli @berkcap (District 5)
Kriss Worthington @k__worthington (District 7)
Lori Droste @loridroste (District 8)

Learn more about the Berkeley City Council and how to connect with local representatives via the city website.

Berkeley council on minimum wage, ballot measures, homelessness, street paving, more (02.09.16)
Council on noisy Southside parties, Black Lives Matter protests, the smoking age, more (01.26.16)
Council on bike sharing, PRC protest report, homeless services, housing (12.15.15)
Berkeley council on affordable housing, protest report, homeless services, protest march (12.01.15)

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...