The debate at Tuesday night’s council meeting on Berkeley’s budget boiled down to a skirmish over $105,000 out of a $319 million city budget, with Mayor Tom Bates and his five council allies voting to spend the funds where they were already allocated – repairing the city’s aged sewers and deteriorating streets.
Councilmember Max Anderson and his two supporters fought to reallocate that money for community services.
“Our budget is a reflection of our priorities – what we believe in as a city,” Anderson said. Anderson requested funds that were not in the mayor’s budget, including money for the Black Infant Health Program, blind services at the , and a study on rebuilding the city pools among others.
Councilmember Jesse Arreguin supported Anderson, arguing that “$105,000 out of (the street repair) budget of $2.7 million is not significant.”
But most of the council agreed with Bates. Councilmember Laurie Capitelli pointed out that “the storm drains and streets are in decrepit condition” and that it is difficult to cross Milvia Street in a wheelchair due to the poor condition of the street.
“Let’s not rob Peter to pay Paul,” Councilmember Gordon Wozniak added, agreeing with Bates’ plan. Wozniak noted that Albany is building two swimming pools on the Berkeley border that Berkeley residents might be able to use. Willard Pool was shut down a year ago and the therapeutic warm pool at Berkeley High will be demolished in December.
This article will be updated with more information about the City of Berkeley's budget. Check back for details.