THE OAKLAND CITY BUDGET 2013 – 2015: A CITY COUNCIL PRIMER

Zennie Abraham / Zennie62
Zennie Abraham / Zennie62

DSI_Oakland_City_Hall_USA_02 The Oakland City Council will hold its last budget hearing on Thursday, tommorrow, and before its final vote in two weeks. This is your chance to go to the Oakland City Council Hearing Room and at least get your ideas in before that time. The meeting starts at 6:30 PM, and here’s a link to the speakers register, so you can sign up to talk (where it reads “agenda item number” type “Budget” because there’s no agenda posted for the Thursday meeting, and it’s assumed that you’re going to talk about the budget):

Speakers Card Sign Up Link For Oakland Budget Hearing

To help you get up the urge to go to City Hall, I’ve created this primer. It consists almost entirely of those parts of the actual City of Oakland 2013 – 2015 Budget that are enough to give you the right picture of what the budget is planned to be. But before we get to that, here’s some points I think you should know:

1) Oakland Mayor Quan does not cut her expenditures, even as she seeks spending reductions in other Oakland departments. The City is reducing expenditures by $11.63 million in FY 2013-2014, and $16.13 million in FY 2014-2015 – none of that comes from the Mayor. In fact, according to page 76, Mayor Quan wants to add a $120,000 Special Assistant To The Mayor. The City Administrator’s Office just cuts management interns, and plans to add a staffer for the Public Ethics Commission. Meanwhile, the City Attorney’s Offices and the City Auditor and City Clerk’s Offices actually do take a true budget reduction of 5 percent in 2013-2014 and 10 percent in 2014-2015. Why not Mayor Quan and why not the City Administrator’s Office? All areas should feel the pain equally – the Mayor, in particular, does not. (See page 76-78)

2) While the Oakland City Budget talks of how the end of the California Redevelopment Law has impacted Oakland, there’s no plan to replace it. Nothing has been done. What should be created is an organization within economic development that seeks out private investors and matches them with public / private projects where the loss of Redevelopment funds is felt. Moreover, the City Of Oakland should not avoid using online programs like Kickstarter to help fund projects to a certain degree.

3) While public safety is important, it should not come on the backs of long-sought-after neighborhood programs. Between making money off the use of cars by Oaklanders who need them, the taxing of services, and the reduction of expenditures for them, Oakland is squeezing the quality of life under the idea that more police on the streets reduce crime. That’s not so. Thus, the 1760 – Telecommunications Reserve of $1,550,000 on page 103 should be reduced by $350,000 for all departments, and that amount used to help pay for neighborhood development projects.

With that, others will have their detailed changes, but what follows is the basics of the Oakland budget itself, followed by the entire 378 page document, right here.

From the City Of Oakland Budget Page 1 to Page 2:

While we have weathered fiscal storms and made substantial progress, there are factors beyond our local control that pose big challenges for balancing this two-year budget in the short term and ensuring our financial stability in the long term. It is crucial that we prepare now to address anticipated increases in expenditures. Our recent economic gains have been offset and outpaced by the following factors:

• Unknown federal and state funding cuts;
• Rising health care costs;
• Rapidly growing costs of employee pensions as the CalPERS funding system undergoes necessary reform;
• Sunsetting of local tax measures; and
• Expiring public safety grants worth millions of dollars

As a result, the Proposed Budget for FY 2013-15 proposes to reduce expenditures by $11.6 million in the first year (FY 2013-14) and $16.1 million in the second year (FY 2014-15). This will result in the proposed elimination of 79.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees
in FY 2013-14 and 86.5 FTEs in FY 2014-15.

In building the vision and direction proposed in this budget, we have weighed and tried to fairly balance the priorities of the Administration, Councilmembers, City employees and, most importantly, the community we serve. The specific proposed budget-balancing measures are presented in detail in the Service Impacts tab of this budget document. In brief, here are some of the most significant, concrete elements of this balanced budget:

Net increases in General Fund appropriations. In the current fiscal year (FY 2012-13), those appropriations total $409 million. For the proposed two-year budget, General Fund appropriations total $430 million in FY13-14, and $457 million in FY14-15.

Investment in public safety by funding more police academies. Under this budget, four academies will graduate over the next two years. The projected sworn staffing level of the department would be an estimated 697 officers by the end of FY 2014-15, depending on graduation and attrition rates.

Investment in economic development, including job training, business assistance, cultural arts and marketing, business attraction and affordable housing.

Policy trade-offs will need to be considered. Among these include funding for additional policeacademies, housing services, litter and illegal dumping enforcement and clean-up, road repair, graffitiabatement and Head Start services, which likely face federal cuts.

We have reduced our reliance on one-time sources of revenue
for ongoing expenses ($10.8 millionover the next two years, compared to $14.3 million for the current year).

The Entire 2013 – 2015 City Of Oakland Budget:

City Of Oakland FY 2013-2015 Proposed Policy Budget by Zennie Abraham

Stay tuned.

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About the Author

Zennie Abraham
Zennie Abraham | Zennie Abraham or "Zennie62" is the founder of Zennie62Media which consists of zennie62blog.com and a multimedia blog news aggregator and video network, and 78-blog network, with social media and content development services and consulting. Zennie is a pioneer video blogger, YouTube Partner, social media practitioner, game developer, and pundit. Note: news aggregator content does not reflect the personal views of Mr. Abraham.

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