The City Council will hold a special meeting to address its budget this coming Tuesday, February 16 at 5:00 p.m. Today the city finally announced the meeting and posted both the agenda and staff’s related report. You can read here how staff proposes to close the FY 2009-2010 general purpose fund budget gap, which has now grown from $10.4 million to a projected $15.3 million (with only $51.5 million from which reductions can be made). The solutions, in a nutshell: use $1.9 million in one-time funds, eliminate 20 positions, bring in another $500,000 in revenue, do some bookeeping maneuvers, and sell $12.3 million worth of property, most of it to the Oakland Redevelopment Agency (i.e., the city sells the property to itself).
And what are staff’s initial thoughts for the 2010-11 deficit, now grown to $32.7 million? Sell Kaiser Auditorium and another $2 million in property, and bring in $12.6 million from some a parcel tax or other new levy. Of course, to do any good in FY 2010-11, the new tax would have to go on the ballot this June. With the new Ranked Choice Voting system, the city was supposed to save money because it would not have a primary election in June. The cost of adding any tax measure to the ballot — whether the tax measure wins or loses — is apparently about $800,000.
In its recent letter to Council concerning budget balancing, MOBN! urged the following:
- Hands off the police department;
- Budget problems can’t be solved with program eliminations;
- Council cannot balance its budget on the assumption that a ballot initiative will pass;
- The city cannot continue to balance its budget through the use of one-time income sources, hoped for revenue, or unspecified departmental expense cuts;
- Council must show it is serious by cutting its own expenses and those of the Mayor’s office; and
- Oakland’s employees are overpaid, and Oakland must balance its budget with significant, across-the-board reductions in personnel costs in every non-public safety function.
Staff’s current proposal conforms to MOBN!’s position on the police department and program eliminations, but is deficient in all other respects. We will be at Tuesday’s meeting to tell the Council just that, and urge all Oaklanders to attend and do the same thing.