For all our bitching, it seems that our fair city has kept its economic footing remarkably well throughout this whole recession thing. The Berkeley City Council passed a neat budget this week; no layoffs and about one percent growth. Whether a result of good governance or just another manifestation of our singular un-normalness, we could care less. We’ll take it, and we’re not about to toss out the recession card either, which has nicely excused our financial shortcomings thus far. For the curious, here’s the scoop and a theory or two on our unique little prosperity:

What’s up: Berkeley awaits a pretty $148 million budget sans layoffs, social service cuts or severed union contracts.  According to Standard & Poor’s, Berkeley has the 18th best bond rating out of 486 cities in California. And, while most cities’ sales tax revenue has plummeted, Berkeley’s has managed to rise.

Why, on Earth: Well, for one, Berkeley is fortunate enough to claim a few big boy employers that have fared relatively well during the recession, including Bayer, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and ours truly, UC Berkeley. Also, keeping out shopping malls and big-box retailers in favor of small, independent shops safely results in small growth during good times and small damage during bad. And lastly, we’ve got killer grub. Restaurants bring in a whopping 18% of sales tax revenue. We owe you one, Alice.

Image Source: Jaevus under Creative Commons.
Luck and planning help Berkeley’s budget grow [Chron]


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