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The shape of things to come

Submitted by on 1, June 18, 2009 – 6:00 am2 Comments

Tuesday night’s council discussion about the fate of the old Carnegie Library brought with it a few hints about the shape of Alameda’s city government in the midst of our apocalyptic economy.

Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant told the council she’s planning to merge the just-downsized Planning & Building Department with Development Services for a new Community and Economic Development Department, which will be housed at City Hall. (Development Services is now stationed out at City Hall West, at Alameda Point.) That’ll happen when next year’s budget is passed.

Fire prevention will also occupy the same space as those newly merged departments, on the first floor of City Hall.

Gallant also said she’s trying to find a way to put all of the city’s Public Works folks in one place. The engineers are out at City Hall West, and the maintenance folks at at the city’s maintenance yard.

She’s also looking for somewhere to put the city’s planning and building records, all of which are still on paper. (Gallant said she had actually been looking at the basement of the Carnegie as storage.)

As far as Councilman Frank Matarrese’s proposal to put the Alameda Museum in the Carnegie goes, it sounds like it will be on a list of potential uses for the building to be drawn up by city staff. Stay tuned.

The city’s budget, by the way, will be coming in about a month late: It’s slated to come up for a vote on August 3, a little more than a month after its normal active date of July 1. Gallant had told the council that with the layoffs she’s made, the city should have a balanced budget for the next 24 months – save any additional loss of state funds (though she’s got some ideas on the table for dealing with that, too).

Deputy City Manager Lisa Goldman said that staff illnesses, implementation of recent layoffs and other projects delayed city staff’s progress on developing the budget by a few weeks. And they’re also hoping to get more information on the state’s situation before finalizing a budget.

She said the state is set to run out of cash on July 28, which could impact a few things. The legislature is also running through various scenarios of taking money from municipalities. This week, it’s gas tax money next year (hit to Alameda: $1.2 million) and redevelopment funds ($912,000 a year for each of the next three to four years), Goldman told the council Tuesday night. For now, plans to take $2 billion in property taxes – $2.4 million to you and me – are off the table.


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