Do you guys remember back in June when the Council was putting together the budget? And they kept talking about how this is just a temporary solution, and that they would be back constantly making more cuts, and adjusting this and that. Council President Jane Brunner, a couple of times, called it a “rolling budget” and at one point suggested it just be a standing item at every meeting.
That probably would have been overkill. Still, it would be nice to see the Council take the City’s ongoing budget problem a little more seriously instead of just pretending like it doesn’t exist until they all of a sudden have to scramble to cut enormous sums of money. There’s a lot of room in the City for long-term efficiencies and money-saving measures, but getting there takes time and planning. It’s impossible to be surgical about cuts if you’re only thinking about the budget when you absolutely have to.
Anyway, to everyone’s great delight, I’m sure, they have to start looking at it again. The first quarter revenue and expenditure figures are now in (PDF), and will be presented to the Council’s Finance and Management Committee (PDF) next Tuesday. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you, but the news isn’t good:
In the General Purpose Fund (1010), a deficit of $18.9 million is projected by year end. The deficit is comprised of a revenue shortfall of $10.08 million, projected overspending of $4.29 million plus $4.5 million in projected Coliseum ticket surcharge revenue that may not be realized.
The majority of the overspending comes from the Police Department, on track to go $3 million over budget due to greater than planned for overtime costs, and the revenue shortfalls come from, well, pretty much everywhere. Property tax is looking to come in $0.36 million lower than anticipated, sales tax receipts are projected to be short $6.74 million, and then we’ve got expected shortfalls of $1.66 million in hotel tax, $0.96 million in parking tax and $0.36 in interest income. That sales tax shortfall, BTW, is based on January-March receipts, in case anyone was planning on using parking tickets as the culprit here.
The report includes updates on the status (PDF) of the budget balancing measures adopted by the Council this summer. Most have been implemented, although there are of course a few notable exceptions – nearly $300,000 was scored as savings by moving 4 Neighborhood Service Coordinators out of the General Fund so they could be paid by a grant instead, but then we didn’t end up getting the grant funding after all. And of course there’s the $800,000 of parking tax revenue at the Coliseum and aforementioned $4.5 million from the 10% Coliseum/Arena ticket fee that we haven’t been able to collect so far, and may not be able to collect at all.
A sheet illustrating projected spending by department (PDF) shows pretty much everyone except for the Police Department and, of course, the Mayor’s Office, on track to meet their currently assigned budget.
But with almost $19 million in projected shortfall already, it looks like it’s going to be another grim year in Oakland. Where are they going to find the money? We’ll get a sense of that on November 17th, when the Council meets to discuss potential budget balancing measures.