Budget Bits: Oakland’s Budget Process Is Underway

Budget Bits: Oakland’s Budget Process Is Underway

For many years and several budget cycles, Make Oakland Better Now! has provided Oakland residents with tools to help understand the city budget. We’re proud to continue our analysis, as Oakland’s Mayor, City Administrator, and City Council move toward adoption of the midcycle, 2019-2021, budget.

So far, we’ve seen some budget priorities from individual City Councilmembers including D2 Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas , D3 Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, and D6 Councilmemeber Loren Taylor. The Finance & Management Committee has also been given an updated Five-Year Financial Forecast, which you can read here.

But what do Oaklanders want to see in the new budget? Back in February, a community survey – now required – was presented by FM3 Research, the survey specialists contracting with the city. The full report is available here. It’s quite lengthy, but there are a couple of key points worth highlighting.

Respondents were asked this open ended question: “In the upcoming two-year budget, what are the two most important issues facing Oakland residents that you would like to see prioritized in the City government budget?” The table below shows the percentage of responses:

Respondents were also asked about which services they felt needed more funding, which needed to be cut, and which were appropriate for higher taxes or fees. Around 50% supported the city spending “significantly more” or “a little more” for these services:

Here are the results when they were asked what should be cut:

Then, respondents were asked the following: “Over the next ten years, the City of Oakland will face tens of millions of dollars in budget shortfalls for employee health and retirement benefits. To keep a balanced budget, the City will have to raise taxes and fees or make cuts to City services. I am going to read you four potential options, and I would like you to tell me which comes closest to what you would prefer.”  The responses:

Again, more findings and insights can be found in the full report.

We’ll be following the budget process very closely this year, and providing further information here at on our blog as matters develop.  We also hope to be hosting a public event on the budget soon after it is released, featuring both the Mayor and City Council President.

In the meantime, here’s an outline of how the budget process will proceed:

Early May: Mayor releases Proposed Budget
May 7: (staff proposed date): Presentation of Mayor’s Proposed Budget to City Council
May 7 (staff proposed date): Budget Proposal Costing Template Sent to Councilmembers for Amendments to Mayor’s Proposed Budget
May 5 – May 18: Community Budget Forums (seven total)

May 21, June 4, and June 18: City Council Hearings on LLAD, Local Measures, Appropriations Limit, and Master Fee Schedule

May June: FY 2018-19 3rd Quarter Revenue & Expenditure Report Delivered to the Finance & Management Committee

June 3 (staff proposed date): Councilmember Costing Requests Due to Budget Bureau
June 10 (staff proposed date):  Council President’s Proposed Amendments Presented at Special Session
June 17: Deadline for Submission of Council President’s Budget
June 18: Target Date for City Council Budget Adoption
June 30: Final Date for Budget Approval

Make Oakland Better Now!

OakTalk Here is the blog of Make Oakland Better Now!, an Oakland community grassroots group of a grass-roots group of voters, volunteers, and policy advocates committed to improving the City of Oakland by focusing on public safety, public works, and responsible budgets. Founded in 2003, we’ve researched, lobbied, and successfully campaigned for a number of new, impactful policies, including the city’s Rainy Day Fund, Measure Z and Operation Ceasefire.

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