This month, Oakland’s City Council will be considering one or more of the three budget proposals submitted on April 29 by Mayor Jean Quan. Mayor Quan has named the three budget proposals Scenario A (All Cuts Budget) Scenario B (Cuts Plus Savings from Employee Concessions) and Scenario C (Cuts, Plus Employee Savings, Plus Income from a Presumed $80 per Parcel Property Tax).
Make Oakland Better Now! thinks there are many unanswered questions about the budget, and we will continue to pose these here at Oaktalk and in the community. But we thought it might be useful to look at other, comparably sized cities’ budgets to see how they compare in some key areas. Today’s post, by MOBN! board member Ron Wolf, does just that.
The City of Oakland is proposing to close libraries, lay off park and tree maintenance staff, enact reductions in Police administrative staff, and reduce overall municipal staffing to a level of about 3500 FTE.
There is no question the City budget is under strain compared to historic funding levels. Oakland is not unique, nearly every city in the country is under similar pressure. How does Oakland compare to other cities around the country in their budget outlook? The below table shows comparative data from cities of comparably sized cities.
A number of caveats apply here. Different cities present their budgets in different ways, and different cities provide different services, so these comparisons sometimes required assumptions and guesswork. Oakland’s estimated annual GPF debt service does not appear in its budget documents, so we base this number on a figure provided by Finance Director Joe Yu at a recent Finance and Management Committee Meeting. Oakland’s number of sworn officers has obviously declined dramatically since October, 2009. And finally, there are differences in cost of living, although Urban Wage CPI indices don’t vary by much more than 10% between any of the cities surveyed.
Nonetheless, these numbers present enormous food for thought and raise many questions about what Oaklanders get from city government for their tax dollars.
Update: Thanks to Lee Aurich for taking this data and showing it with some ratios. This really helps put the numbers in perspective: