Make Oakland Better Now! (MOBN!) is concerned that the actions required to balance the budget will be harmful to essential city services. Therefore, in adopting a budget, we recommend that the Mayor and City Council observe the following priorities:
The budget must make Oakland safer: Public Safety is the first priority in this budget.
Oakland is currently experiencing a crime wave as measured by any statistical measure. We are reminded of this every day by the crime constantly occurring all around us.
Following are our recommendations to the Oakland City Council:
- Maintain a robust police force of at least the 726 officers as funded in the mid-cycle budget adjustment. This includes staffing and funding the four academies required to insure 726 officers. The Department of Violence Prevention must be organized and fully funded as an essential part of a robust response to crime. The Ceasefire Program must be fully implemented. We recommend MACRO be utilized to respond to 911 calls as determined to be appropriate. We support the proposed change to civilianize police internal investigations and transfer that responsibility to the Police Commission.
- The Council and Administration must identify other savings or sources of income to maintain vital public safety services. Every option must be considered.
- Fully fund homelessness programs as an essential part of the budget. This also requires close coordination with Alameda County and adopting a single plan with the County to guide homelessness services. The MOU approach used in Sacramento between the City and County provides a model.
- The Council must closely examine the projected Real Estate Transfer Tax revenue estimate in light of current economic conditions including lowered residential sales and the potential over supply of commercial properties to determine if the current revenues estimates may be too optimistic. Because of the volatility of this tax the Council should in the future consider revising the Consolidated fiscal policy to devote a greater percent of the tax to the Rainy Day fund (Vital Services Stabilization Fund) or other programs to address the city’s long-term unfunded liabilities.
- No new positions should be created and funded in the budget unless essential to implementing budget priorities. If new positions are identified as necessary in the long term they should be created but not funded until the city’s financial position improves.
- Implementing the above priorities will require more resources. Oakland must make it a priority to seek Federal, State, County, and private sector funding to maintain our essential services. The Council must create at least one new position or redirect an existing position to be fully committed to seeking additional funding.
- The Council must examine the unfunded liabilities of $2.14 billion with a goal of adopting a solution to this challenge.
- It is essential that the Council address the long-term structural budget deficit that has faced the city for years. This requires a deep and immediate review to determine all of the possible actions which could resolve this issue including economic development, added revenues, changes in the manner of providing services, and addressing the long-term unfunded liabilities. This must be an exhaustive review. We recommend the Administration and Council create a broad-based ad hoc commission to examine all aspects of the city’s financial situation. The Council must commit to place those recommendations of the Commission requiring voter action on the ballot.
- The Mayor, City Council, City Staff and Oaklanders must act together to solve the city’s challenging financial situation.
MOBN! commits to support and assist in accomplishing these priorities. We urge all Oaklanders to join in the effort to ensure vital services are preserved and our city becomes solvent for the long term.