After Make Oakland Better Now! asked locals what steps should be taken to close the City of Oakland’s budget gap, we wondered what would happen next. Finding another $9 million-plus this fiscal year isn’t an easy task for novices or experts, but our opinions do matter.
Well, the people have spoken: at least 140 survey-takers shared their opinions. According to Bruce Nye, who heads MOBN!, the results boiled down to making cuts as equally as possible. However police and public safety were functions that needed protection, in the short term.
MOBN! intended to share Oaklanders’ priorities with the City Council before they met on budget decisions. Thus a recommendations letter was emailed to Council members yesterday, which first acknowledged constraints in the short-term and then provided specific direction signals.
Don’t touch public safety:
- The topic of reducing sworn law enforcement personnel should be off the table.
- The minimal savings that could be achieved through reducing civilian personnel in the Oakland Police Department constitute a false economy.
- The city’s immediate fiscal problems cannot, for the most part, be solved by eliminating programs.
Do share the pain elsewhere:
- Oakland must balance its budget with significant, across-the-board reductions in personnel costs in every non-public safety function in the city.
- Combined salary and benefit costs are far out of line with the market, and far exceed what the city can afford.
- Accomplish [cuts] through a very wrenching combination of lay-offs, salary reductions, more early retirements, and a major restructuring of benefits.
- While even severe cuts to the council’s and mayor’s offices (and to employee parking) would provide only minimal benefit…it is a representative message to deliver.
Next up? We suggest you mark your calendars for February 16th, when the City Council will meet and wrestle with gap-closure choices. If you tune into KTOP (Comcast Channel 10) at 5pm, then you’ll see this cliffhanger play out all night.