Oakland Councilmembers offer changes to Mayor’s budget proposal

So do you guys remember how in the budget (PDF) the Mayor proposed, we were going to save $24 million a year from the General Fund by just not paying into our internal service funds, which would have plunged us an extra $50 million into debt over the next two years?

Now, the Mayor’s out of here and back to DC in two years, so of course, he doesn’t care. Send Oakland deeper into debt? Why not? It won’t be his problem. The Council, on the other hand, well, one, they actually live here and will have to suffer the consequences of whatever decision is made, and also they’re going to have to deal with it (and maybe even try to get people to vote for them again) when the FY011-13 budget process rolls around. And they’re starting to become painfully aware of just how much it sucks when short-sighted decisions you made a while ago cause it was expedient come back to haunt you.

Anyway, they’ve been pretty upfront since the beginning that they are not willing to stop paying the internal service funds. Which puts them in the unfortunate position of having to find another $24 million somewhere.

At Tuesday’s Council meeting (which starts at 3 PM), Councilmembers Jane Brunner, Ignacio De La Fuente, Pat Kernighan, and Jean Quan will present an alternative proposal (PDF) to the Mayor’s budget, one that does not stop paying into the internal service funds and also does not rely on $6 million worth of debt refinancing that the Mayor had proposed. Here are the highlights:

  • Library: Do not accept proposed branch pairing, instead, keep all libraries open 5 days/week, but reduce book budget by 10% and eliminate General Fund contribution to Second Start Adult Literacy Program.
  • Public Works: Rescue from proposed cuts 4 tree maintenance staff and 8 park maintenance staff who pick up trash. Instead, get rid of 100 vehicles.
  • Police: Do not cut rangers (who patrol the parks) as proposed. Elminate take-home vehicles for OPD and ground police helicopter.
  • Fire: Save $6.4 million through employee concessions.
  • Parking: Extend meter hours to 8 PM. Increase parking rate by $0.25 per hour. Increase parking rates for peak meter hours downtown only, not including Chinatown or Jack London Square.
  • Mayor: Eliminate $800k out of exempt positions budget, and eliminate Pay-Go for current year.
  • City Council: 20% reduction of budget, including elimination of Pay-Go for current year.
  • Voluntary 5% pay cut for elected officials.
  • 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 School of the Art by 50%.
  • Raise $9 million with entertainment fee: 10% surcharge on all tickets at Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Arena.

That’s not everything, of course. You can read all their suggested changes here (PDF), along with the amount of money each item will cost or save.

24 thoughts on “Oakland Councilmembers offer changes to Mayor’s budget proposal

  1. floribunda

    this reminds me of the movie “Dave” where the impostor president gets his personal accountant to come in and go through the federal budget line by line to eliminate the BS…

  2. Justin Horner

    Not bad, actually. I’m bolstered by their unwillingness to take the gimmicky way out by not paying their internal service funds and instead to face the question head on. The Non-Departmental cuts make sense, too.

  3. len

    good start. way too light on layoffs of administrators and union positions.

    too heavy a reliance on coliseum/arena ticket surcharge that i’d think would run smack into the county wanting to do the same thing. (isn’t it a joint deal?) would like to see their calculations on that (weren’t some of these same councilmembers here for the raiders ill fated luxury seat licensing rosy projection?)

    they did good taking out some of dellum’s shell game moves, but kept the 3mill “delay repaying negative fund balances for one year”.

    what’s a 1% vacancy saving? i assume that means not filling job slots that open up?

    why in heck would they propose saving 300k by grounding the opd helicopter when we’ll probably have to layoff cops and need to leverage the cops we keep?

    -len raphael

  4. V Smoothe Post author

    My understanding was that the $9 million would be the City’s share of the surcharge, split between the City and the County, which govern the Coliseum together as a joint powers authority.

  5. Christopher

    A good (if late) start. The council seems to be waking up, realizing they need to run a city, not just spend other people’s money.

  6. Hayden


    I’m not sure about vacancy savings for the City. The State version of this is that State agencies are budgeted for personnel at about 95% of what they would spend if they were fully staffed (this is a long-standing approach from Sacramento, at least for my agency). This assumes that vacancies and the time required to go through the hiring process will equal at least 5% of the personnel budget, so agencies aren’t budgeted that last 5%. In many years that works, but for agencies that are close to fully staffed, it can be a really challenge–partly as the work they’re expected to complete is based on 100% of staffed positions.

    If the City already operates under a similar system, then an additional 1% savings will be no problem for some departments, but others will have to make some tough decisions about layoffs or whatever other options they have.

  7. Andy Panda

    Here is a letter floating around on some neighborhood news groups. The NSC people are really good go-betweens between city services & citizens. Putting them to work with parolees & probationers is a big waste of their abilities & won’t do squat for the parolees & probationers.

    I heard that the city wants to either sack all the NSCs or put them under the mayor’s office.

    I believe that both of htese are very bad ideas. The NSCs are a very good liason between the police & the community. Edith Guillen, our NSC is a real asset, who goes well above & beyond the call of her job.

    Putting the NSCs under the control of the Mayor’s office to work w/ parolees & probationers is a real waste of the NSCs skills. NSCs are a real valuable resource in involving citzens with the police.

    Laying off cops is also a very bad idea, as crime is finally coming down around here.

    Please suggest that the Mayor look around at his own staff for some budget cuts. I would start with his driver.

    Thank you,
    Andy Blackwood

  8. livegreen

    There aren’t enough NSC’s now to work with the neighborhoods & OPD. There should be more of them, not less, and not doing work on other issues. If you take the Neighborhood out of NSC makes no sense and is a fundamental change to their purpose and to their involvement in neighborhood policing.

    It makes one think this Mayor does not believe at all in either crime prevention or neighborhood policing. What about the City Counsel?

  9. Ken

    livegreen, should mayor newsom cut his driver too? there is the security factor, too.

    i like tom bates’ approoach, but berkeley is very tiny and bikeable/busable

    oakland is freakin huge. you need vehicle access to get around this place in a reasonable time, at least by modern civilization’s standards.

    plus he’s a bit old do you want someone that old driving around oakland in a hurry? i think it’s ok for busy elected leaders to be driven, esp if they are hosting dignitaries or biz colleagues, then they can talk while being transported and actually conduct biz. (in theory)

  10. Patrick

    Ken, I take exception to your suggestion that Dellums is in a hurry to go anywhere – let alone the need for a driver and Town Car to do it in. As his wife accompanies him everywhere, couldn’t she drive their personal car (which he can well afford on his salary)? Proposing a budget that puts today’s obligations off to a time when the proposer will most likely be dead is a non-starter – especially when viewed within the context of chauffeurs and city-provided Town Cars.

    I’m impressed by the budget proposal put forth by these 4 members of the City Council. Do I love it? No. But it shows a willingness to preserve (as much as possible) the things that affect our daily lives, which are usually the first things to go (and smack of I told you so politics). And, I never thought I’d see the day when JQ would agree to a subsidy reduction to her beloved Chabot – it’s heartening, I tell ya!

  11. Ken

    Patrick, now that you mention his wife Cynthia Dellums can drive, it makes sense to cut the towncar. It especially makes sense in light of Dellum’s large salary doing part time work (for which he’s asked for a raise!? no way), and allegations that Cynthia is in fact directing much, or some, of Dellums’ work prerogatives.

  12. Andy K

    Why is the 5% cut for elected officials voluntary? How about a 10% mandatory cut? The State and many other cities are putting staff on a 2 day a month furlough – which is a 20% salary cut. These are not voluntary.

    Lead by example.

  13. Naomi Schiff

    Help nail down the city council proposals at Tuesday’s budget hearing. Especially, keep those library branches open! You can sign up on the website (go to city council meetings & agendas). Budget item # 15 may come up around 5 pm, we think. Streaming video or KTOP if you want to keep tabs on where they are at without sitting all the way through.

    Thank you for supporting our libraries, and the partial restoration of parks staff.

  14. len

    if we cut dellum’s bodyguard/chauffer (are they one person or two?), our mayor might be at risk of getting pied (not by me). don’t think anyone dislikes dellums enough to even do that. (hmm, maybe one of those thousands who got laid off when the Army base closed).


  15. Patrick

    Andy – how does 2 days out of 20 = -20%? If you assume 50 weeks of work per year x 5 days per week, that is 250 work days. 2 days off per month = 24 days off. 250/24 = 10.41%.

    Also, I’d like to mention that they get the day off, yet retain benefits and pension accruals. Days off are something I covet, and I am willing to pay for them.

  16. Steve Carney

    The current proposal on the table is 12 furlough days over the next fiscal year (5%) plus an increase in the employee retirement share from 3% to 8%… for a total pay cut of 10%. This actually equals closer to a 12%-13% paycut because the furlough days are counted as “unpaid leave,” which means vacation, sick and retirement benefits do not accrue. This is unlike sick days, during which benefits still accrue.

    The City would like the authority to impose additional furlough days (the 12 would not be a cap) should the budget crisis worsen.

    This is still a proposal and no final agreements have been made between the unions and the City. Once a tentative agreement is made between union leadership and the City, union rank and file would have to ratify.

  17. Andy K

    Thanks for checking my math Patrick – 10% is more like it.

    Still want to know why elected officials pay cuts are voluntary.

  18. Robert

    Actually Steve, the fact that vacation, etc. do not accrue means that the furlough is a 5% cut in compensation, rather than the 4% or so compensation cut it would be if those continued to accrue.

  19. Steve Carney

    Robert: 12 unpaid days divided by 260 (52 paid work weeks x 5 work days) = 4.6% pay cut.

  20. Robert

    Steve, yes? I am not sure what you are saying.

    I guess more to the point is how you figure the total package of furlough and increased employee retirement contribution is worth 12-13% in the package. Because I got 8.8%, assuming a current CALPers contributionof 18% (3% employee and 15% city).

  21. Robert

    I would have to think that an across the board decrease in salary/wage by 5% would be better. Partly because it would be simplier to admnister and you wouldn’t need discussion about whether vacation continued to accrue, but more importantly it would be far better for the residents of Oakland, because they would not have deal with all city offices closed once a month. In addition, an across the board decrease would apply to ‘critical’ jobs as well, and would save the city somewhat more money that way.

  22. Michael F. Sarabia

    I was shocked to read “Voluntary 5% pay cut for elected officials.” !!
    This is incredible! Did it pass, did it get approved, how come it was not the headline in the Oakland Tribute, Contra Costa Times, etc.
    A few percent here, a few more there, and who knows, taxes will be keeping up without an increase. Prices will not have to go up. Production will continue, Jobs will survive and tax collections continue and Oakland will survive.

    Sure, you can rescind the change after the Recovery starts, if it does start.
    I do not believe the Recovery will start until more cities, companies, schools, fire and police stations approve something similar. We must bring down the Cost of Living down to be able to compete with world prices, or we are doomed.
    We no longer have the technical edge that protected us, everyone had to buy American goods, they were the best.
    Do you know what country made your computer? Which country sold the oil used in your flight or for your gasoline? Who build your car?
    Sure, this can be changed, as soon as the Recovery is here.
    But, more steps like this will keep the Recession from becoming a Depression.
    Too many are satisfied by saying “They always end, you know?” but, they forget the Great Depression did not end. And, there is disagreement as to its cause.
    We best prepare for the worst and we will always be pleasantly surprised.
    Congratulations! You are the best leaders any city ever had!
    Can you really imagine San Francisco or Sacramento doing the same? I can’t.
    Thank You for giving so much for “your people”.