After like two months of discussion, the Oakland City Council will finally pass a budget on Tuesday. Last week, Councilmembers Brunner, De La Fuente, Kernighan, and Quan submitted a revised version of their proposed changes to the Mayor’s budget (PDF), which you can read in its entirety here (PDF). Here are the highlights, and I’ve noted the places where this proposal differs from what was discussed on the 16th:
- Library: Do not accept proposed branch pairing. Instead, keep all libraries open 5 days per week, but reduce book budget by 10%.
- Public Works: Do not cut (as proposed by Mayor) 4 tree maintenance staff and 3 gardener crews. In exchange, 100 vehicles will be removed from the fleet, two vacant positions will be eliminated (vehicle maintenance positions), and we will not make $1.45 million in expected new vehicle purchases.
- Police: Do not cut the rangers (who patrol the parks) as proposed. 10% reduction in personnel budget, eliminate take-home vehicles (except for certain positions), and ground helicopter.
- The big change from the last proposal we saw is, of course, the 10% personnel budget reduction ($13.35 million). You would have to have been living in a cave for the past two weeks to have missed the heated back and forth between City officials and the OPOA over the negotiations, which are not going well. This proposal basically says that whether or not the police agree to changes in their contract, they will take the same 10% cut as all other City employees. If a contract agreement is not reached, the cost reduction may be imposed through furloughs.
- Do not accept debt refinancing or suspended payments to internal service funds as proposed in Mayor’s budget.
- Parking: Do not raise parking fine for expired meter beyond $55 ($10 increase had been proposed. Extend meter hours to 8 PM. Increase rates in off-street parking lots so they’re the same as the meters. Raise meter fee $0.50, to $2/hour.
- Two weeks ago, the proposal was to raise the meter fee only $0.25, but also to begin a pilot program that would charge $3/hour during peak hours (10-2) downtown. The peak hour pricing pilot program was pretty unpopular at the meeting on the 16th, and that proposal is now gone.
- Parking: Start charging parking tax on parking at the Coliseum (raises $1.5 million, will start September 1st) and on diesel truck parking.
- Marketing: Increase Cultural Funding Program Coordinator position from 0.5 FTE to 1.0 FTE. Reduce arts grants by $55k to offset cost.
- This is new.
- Fire Department: save $6.1 million through employee concessions.
- This was $6.4 million in the proposal two weeks ago.
- Mayor: 20% reduction from exempt positions budget, plus elimination of Pay-Go.
- City Attorney: 10% reduction of budget
- City Auditor: will have to share a receptionist with the Public Ethics Commission
- City Council: 20% budget reduction, including elimination of Pay-Go (for current year only).
- Voluntary 10% pay cut for elected officials.
- This is an increase from the 5% proposed last time around.
- Reduce supplies across all agencies by 20%, saving $1.3 million.
- Renegotiate outstanding contracts for 5-10% reduction, saving $0.5 million.
- Reduce subsidies to Zoo, Chabot Space & Science Center, Cypress Mandela Training Center, Oakland Asian Cultural Center, etc. by 10%. Reduce subsidy to Schools of the Arts by 50%.
- Raise $4.5 million with 10% surcharge on tickets at the Coliseum and Arena.
- This was estimated at $9 million in the previous proposal, but since so many tickets have already been sold, it’s clear we wouldn’t be able to bring in that much this year. $9 million is expected for next year.
- Save $2.1 million through Early Retirement Incentive program.
And again, that’s just a summary of the proposal. You can view the entire thing, along with the amount of money each step would cost or save this year and next year here (PDF).
Now on top of that, some other Councilmembers have submitted proposals of their own. District 7 Councilmember and Public Safety Committee Chair Larry Reid is asking that the police helicopter be restored to the budget (PDF), as well as take-home vehicles for senior-level and critical emergency staff. In exchange, he would like to reduce the police overtime budget by an equivalent cost ($378,000 for the helicopter, $80,000 for the take-home vehicles).
Reid is also proposing (PDF) that we reclassify the position of parking control technician to parking control officers. Parking Control Officers make like $1 more per hour than Parking Control Technicians (hourly rates are listed in the salary schedule (PDF)), but they also have more power. The idea is that if we did this, we would be able to use a combination of parking control officers and a small number of police officers for traffic enforcement at special events, which would cut the traffic enforcement cost for a typical event just about in half.
I don’t know how in tune everybody is with this special event issue – I’ve been meaning to write about it forever and just haven’t found the time. Basically, the City used to budget some money to cover the costs of having police provide security/traffic control for special events, parades, and festivals. Then that money got cut back in November, and now the festivals have to shoulder the full cost. But the festivals can’t afford it. This resulted in events like Cinco de Mayo getting cancelled. It’s a real problem. So this would be a way of reducing some of those costs.
District 3 Councilmember Nancy Nadel also submitted a list (PDF) of suggestions (PDF). Unlike the other proposals listed above, her memos do not include any estimates of the cost savings that would be achieved if they were adopted. A number of her suggestions are also included in the more detailed proposal outlined above. Additionally, she asks that we consider:
- Eliminate city paid parking spaces for employees
- Switch from auto allowance to a mileage reimbursement policy
- Suspend professional development allowances for one year
- Suspend merit increases for one year
- Raise rental rates at Parks and Recreation facilities so that they are completely cost covering.
- Reduce Zoo subsidy by 25%
- Reduce Chabot Space and Science Center subsidy by 40%
She further requests that the City explore whether we could save money on police vehicles by assigning officers two to each car.
State law requires us to pass a budget by July 1st, so a decision will be made on Tuesday. The meeting starts at 5 PM, and the budget is basically the only thing on the agenda (PDF).