(image source: Oakland Homeless Response)
On November 14, Oakland’s City Council passed a resolution to submit a parcel tax to voters on the March 3, 2020 primary ballot. The amount of the tax will vary depending on forms and usage of real property, but residential property would be taxed at rates of $148 per single-family residential parcel and $101.08 per residential unit for multiple residential parcels with a 50% reduction for affordable housing projects, and for non-residential units, a rate based on frontage, square footage and building area. (Read the Chronicle’s recent article on the parcel tax here, and East Bay Express’ coverage here.) Continue reading
Last week, Oaklanders who live in the hills received their mail-in ballots for Measure A. This measure, which creates and funds the Oakland Wildlife Prevention District, replaces the expiring Wildfire Prevention Assessment District. For the past ten years, the WPAD has successfully provided funding for prudent fire-reduction measures in the hills-based wild lands interface. The previous district has been supported by a parcel tax of $65, which expires at the end of this year. With the new district, this tax will increase by $13… While we are critical of many things Oakland’s city government does, MOBN! supports this initiative.
We are concerned that the campaign against Measure A is based on half-truths, innuendo and irrelevancies. We believe that when voters within the district know the facts, they will join us in voting to maintain the effective public safety efforts previously supported by the Assessment District, and now supported by the WPD.
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.