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Senior Center, School Crossing Guards Among Services to Be Restored

The city council to vote on an amendment to 2010-12 biennial budget that would restore a variety of municipal services.

Newark's City Council is scheduled to vote on an amendment Thursday that would restore a number of basic services as a result of funds generated through a voter-approved utility tax.

If approved, the amendment  will affect the city's 2010-12 biennial budget.

The newest additions to the amendment include restoration of the city's Neighborhood Watch program and seven crossing guards at high-traffic intersections near elementary schools.

Collection of the funds from Measure U, which was approved in November, has begun.

"The money is trickling in at this point," said John Becker, Newark's city manager.

As of May 18, the city has collected $132,000 from the utility tax, according to Becker. The tax is expected to generate $192,000 monthly and $2.3 million annually, he said.

The council's vote will take place at its regular board meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the , 37101 Newark Blvd.

The amendment calls for the restoration of the city's Neighborhood Watch program through the hiring of a part-time special assistant who will act as a liaison between the Neighborhood Watch Program and the Police Department Volunteer Program.

The cost for the position is estimated at $65,000 annually.

School crossing guards will be reinstated if the vote is approved. Crossing guards will be placed at the following seven locations:

  • at Jacaranda Drive and Smith Avenue
  • at Cherry Street and Fountaine Avenue
  • at Bettencourt Street and Indian Wells Drive
  • at Birch Street and Central Avenue
  • at one of three uncontrolled crossings on Musick Avenue
  • at Spruce Street and Thornton Avenue
  • at Cedar Boulevard and Mirabeau Drive

The crossing guards will work three hours per day at an estimated cost of $64,000 annually. The locations were determined by an analysis conducted by the Engineering and Police Department.

Vehicle and student counts, intersection types, potential vehicle hazards, conflicting traffic patters and guidelines from the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices were among the characteristics considered in the analysis, according to city staff.

Mayor David Smith said the city aims to be transparent with the Measure U funds and that while monies will come from the tax, city officials must plan to restore savings that have been depleted.

"We still have to watch our pennies," Smith said.

Since 2008, the city has made approximately $8 million in cuts by eliminating and decreasing staff levels, reducing several programs, closing down its only senior center and contracting out its fire services.

Contracting fire services to the Alameda County Fire Department saves the city between $500,000 and $600,000 annually.

The council first heard recommendations of . Since then, city staff has dropped a recommendation to restore the city's Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program.

Here is a list of the other services and programs that will be restored once the amendment is approved:

  • One full-time School Resource Officer
  • One full-time Police Detective
  • One part-time (each): Police Special Assistant, Police Service Aide and Vehicle Abatement Aide
  • Two full-time labor positions in the Landscape-Park Division
  • Increase street sweeping back to monthly service
  • Restore some reductions implemented in the Park Maintenance Parity Plan
  • Reopen the Senior Center
  • Resume the Ash Street Summer Program
  • School Crossing Guards
  • One 24-hour regular, part-time Community Preservation Officer
  • One 32-hour regular, part-time accountant
  • Additional administrative support services
  • Design Consultant for Lakeshore Park Seawall Project
  • Utility and Fuel funding
  • Equipment replacement
  • Fire Apparatus replacement
  • Capital Improvement Fund
  • Fiscal Uncertainty Fund
Mona Taplin May 24, 2011 at 04:16 PM
Things are looking up.
Jennifer May 24, 2011 at 05:55 PM
The "only" senior center WAS NOT CLOSED. Yes, the physical building was, but not the services!!!! I resent having to pay the unnecessary cost of reopening that facility!!!! Also, according the Mayor Smith's state of the city address LAST year, contracting out the fire department DID NOT have anything to do with the budget crisis!!!! Please be honest when reporting this information!!!!
Nika Megino May 24, 2011 at 06:33 PM
Thanks for bringing that to our attention, Feather. Senior services and programs did move to the Silliman Center when the Senior Center facility was closed. Contracting out fire services was a plan in the process before the budget cuts and was not a result of the cuts, but the estimated savings does amount to what is reported in this article.
Mona Taplin May 24, 2011 at 06:35 PM
Feather, contracting out the fire department last year did two things. It saved money, and it gave our fire fighters better benefits. We didn't need to be in a financial crisis to make the move to cut down on expenses and still have the same service. The move was very important because it is still saving us a great deal of money. Also, the Senior center does cost money to operate, just as did the recreation center on Cedar Blvd. Sharing the Silliman center did cut down on costs considerably. Gas. lights, insurance, staff, to name a few. Sharing space at Silliman was inconvenient for both Seniors and youth,- but it kept some programs open for both.
Jan MacKenzie May 24, 2011 at 10:22 PM
Small gains! And so happy that our beloved crossing guard Scott will resume getting paid. He donated his time this year because he cares so much about our neighborhood kids that he wanted to be certain they'd stay safe. We love ya, Scott! You the man! The way we take care of youngsters and oldsters shows the character of our society. A lot more character is needed!


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