United States – Mayor Jesse Arreguin has proposed reallocating $1 million previously allocated to projects to overhaul the Berkeley police force. In his city budget proposal, Mayor Jesse Arregun proposes to allocate an additional $2 million for traffic safety initiatives and expand a program that helps tenants avoid evictions. The mayor’s budget would also redirect just over $1 million committed last year to several highly watched police reform programs due to Berkeley’s uncertain economic situation and declining revenue from major sources.
After leaving the budget and finance committee last week, the city council will consider the budget plan on Tuesday. Budget promises made in the previous budget to hire more police officers, increase funding for street paving, and invest more money in reserve and retirement funds are still in effect. Council passed a two-year, $733 million budget last June, so the city isn’t ready for a major financial shakeup.
Berkeley does not face a significant financial shortfall this year, unlike cities like Oakland. However, the city council and various divisions of city hall have proposed additional projects and programs costing millions of dollars. Financial experts have warned that rising interest rates mean lower real estate transfer tax revenue for the city of Berkeley. These revenues had previously skyrocketed alongside the boom in the real estate market.
In order to prioritize activities that can be carried out in the coming year and leverage funds from other sources, the proposed budget had to make some tough choices, as Arregun explained. “There really wasn’t a lot of room to work with this budget cycle,” Arregun said in an interview. While waiting to have a better idea of our income, we must prioritize the things that must be done now.