Friday, April 8, 2011

E-mail Letter: Oakland City Budget Status from Councilmember Bruenner

Dear Friend,

I am writing to let you know about the City Council Budget Retreat on Monday, April 11th.

The Budget Retreat is a special Council session to start the discussion regarding the budget for the City of Oakland . This is the first of many meetings that will take place on the budget over the next few months. The public is invited to attend and participate.

The Budget Retreat will be held on Monday, April 11th at 9am at the Joaquin Miller Community Center , 3594 Sanborn Drive .  The budget discussion is the only item on the agenda.

The City of Oakland , like many cities and states across the country, is in difficult financial times. Revenues are down $121 million dollars from a high of $511 Million in 2005/06 to the current level of $390 Million projected for next year- a 24% decrease! The City will be looking at at least a $46 million cut for next year.

In response, to the unfolding budget crisis, the City Council has made $170 million in cuts since July 2008. The City has eliminated 528 jobs citywide (329 from the General Fund) and laid-off 269 employees. 106 employees have taken early retirement or sought other employment. Concessions from City workers include taking 12 unpaid furlough days each year and increased retirement contributions. These employee concessions add up to a 10% pay-cut for most City workers.

Oakland is an almost $1 billion institution, but the City Council has discretion over a much smaller amount:
  • Most of the City’s revenue is in the form of grants and other pass-throughs from the Federal and State government – which must be spent for the specific purposes for which they are intended.
  • After taking out pass-throughs $390 million is left in our General Fund, which pays for public safety, park maintenance, libraries, senior centers, and elected officials.
  • 71% of our General Fund is allocated for police and fire and 22% is used to pay debt obligations and satisfy the requirements of ballot measures.
  • $26 million is left for everything else and the projected deficit for our next fiscal year is $46 million dollars.

The Mayor has presented a budget report with a menu of cuts and budget balancing ideas. None of the choices are easy or desirable. Every department and city function will have to cut back in order for the City as a whole to get to a balanced budget. The Mayor’s report presents a goal of cutting 15% in every department.

Next Steps
The Mayor is expected to present her proposed budget to the City Council sometime in April. The City Council will consider and amend the Mayor’s proposal in future meetings and a decision must be made on a balanced budget by July 1st.

In addition, our office will be hosting an informational budget meeting for North Oakland District 1 on May 21st from 10 A.M. – 12 Noon at Peralta Elementary School .

I will continue to keep you appraised as the budget moves forward. I welcome your input and ideas. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 238-7001


Jane Brunner
City Councilmember, North Oakland District 1

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