There’s plenty of concern about whether most of Oakland’s libraries can remain open, with the severe budget crunch.
Mayor Jean Quan has laid out three budget options, and Budget A translates into 14 closures — including our Montclair Library. No one wants this worst-case outcome, given the painful cuts which would impact many city services.
Here’s a recap of the budget options, from District 4 Rep Libby Schaaf:
- Budget A — Assumes no voluntary employee concessions, so is all-cuts; cuts 395 city jobs.
- Budget B — Assumes 10-15% concessions from all employees; cuts 162 city jobs.
- Budget C — Assumes 10-15% concession plus an $80 parcel tax is adopted; cuts 104 city jobs.
Save Oakland Library has outlined all the library closures and cuts caused by Budget A. There would be only $3.6 million available from general funds, a pittance. And Measure Q parcel taxes, earmarked for libraries, would evaporate. Why? These taxes only get collected if the City funds $9 million minimum from general funds. (Measure Q contributed around $14 million this past year.)
We hope that Budget A won’t see the light of day! So let’s move to Budget B which, according to Council Rep Schaaf, will keep the libraries open and hours intact. She explains this budget scenario:
The total Library budget would actually increase by about $1.3 million and authorized staffing would increase by 1 FTE. The only change required is shifting $400k in General Fund costs to Measure Q, which staff assures me won’t change services AT ALL.
But believe me, other Councilmembers and I love our libraries and understand their value. I’m confident that even without full concessions, we’ll be able to preserve current library services and Mayor Quan’s Budget B shows it can be done.
That leaves Budget C, which involves an election and more parcel taxes. It’s a little hard to contemplate that option. Would we even have an election? Would voters approve another tax, in this climate? Who knows?
Hey, maybe we will somehow luck out — like Governor Jerry Brown’s recent, surprising revenue projection gift at the state level.