City Council Update, April 15 & 16, 2024

City Council Update, April 15, 2024

At meetings on Monday and Tuesday, Council completed its review of the city budget, recognized Matthew Baumgarten's service as City Manager, and approved a contract for HR services, among other matters.

Council Meeting

Council recognized Matthew Baumgarten for his eight years of service to Berkley as its City Manager. He gave a nice farewell at the end of his last City Council meeting with Berkley.

We approved our second contract with SMART to provide transportation services for seniors and the disabled

We also renewed an agreement for benefits administration with Gallagher Benefit and Services. With their help, we have avoided over $3 million in healthcare costs since 2018 and we continue to look for new ways to save.

The 15-year-old chairs used by City Council, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Planning Commission will be replaced. 

A small tweak was made to the recently passed parklet regulations. Parklets allow restaurants that meet certain criteria to set up outdoor dining in a parking space in front of their building. 

The BOSS (Berkley Outdoor Social Scene) will be coming very soon. This will allow outdoor consumption of alcohol in the Downtown Marquee district. Participating restaurants include Amici's, El Patio, and Mongers, with more to come.

The meeting packet.


Budget Work Session

With a new format and approach to our budget, we were able to review it in 4 hours, about half the time it normally takes.

Some highlights:

  • Although taxable values increased by 5%, the city will only see a 3% net increase in revenue across all sources. This is because only one part of the city's revenue comes from property taxes. Our other sources of income grew more slowly. The result is the city's purchasing power does not keep up with inflation.
  • The budget was balanced through a combination of revenue growth and cuts in expenditures. 
  • The last $500,000 of Covid relief money will be spent this year.
  • We have changed accounting methods for the water fund. In the short term, it results in some oddities in the reporting, but in the long term will give a better view of the financial health of the account.
  • Road conditions were worse than expected on Gardner, Griffith, and West, so there will not be any large road projects this year. 
  • Council directed that we start using capital improvement funds to clearly earmark money being saved for future, large capital expenditures. This was motivated by the fact that one of our firetrucks will soon need to be replaced, which will cost nearly $1 million.
  • The city will look to do away with yard waste tags starting in spring 2025.

For a great overview of the city budget, read the first 16 pages of the draft budget and listen to the first 30 minutes of the work session, linked below. 

You can read more about the budget and get updates on the city's website.

Public hearings and the vote on the adoption of the budget will be held at the May 20 Council meeting.