Oakland Mayor Jean Quan Wednesday released a proposed budget for the next two fiscal years that calls for heavy spending on public safety, job creation and economic development.
Quan told reporters at a briefing at City Hall that her budget proposed to offer a “fair share” that balances the city’s many priorities with its fiscal reality.
She said her budget is balanced and includes spending reductions that are necessary to close projected shortfalls as well as eliminating a total of 86.5 full time jobs, although she hopes that many of those job eliminations will be offset by attrition instead of layoffs.
Quan said she plans to reduce spending by $11.6 million in the first year and by $16.1 million in the second year.
The mayor said she proposes to increase Oakland’s general fund, which is $409 million in the current fiscal year that ends June 30, to $430 million in fiscal 2014 and to $457 million in fiscal 2015.
Quan said her budget calls for having a total of four police academies over the next two years, which would bring the Oakland Police Department’s staffing to an estimated 697 officers, depending on actual graduation and attrition.
Joining Quan at the briefing, Police Chief Howard Jordan said, “I’m really excited with this budget because it shows that the city is working on a long-term solution to provide us with more officers.
Jordan said his department’s staffing has dropped from 836 officers about four years ago to as low as 611 recently, which he described as “a significant difference.”
He said having four police academies over the next two years will “adequately staff this department going forward” and will help it solve crimes more quickly and be more efficient.
Quan said she is proposing the police academies because “the most urgent, immediate priority is to reduce crime and increase police staffing.”
She said that although Oakland’s economy is improving, the city must still find ways of increasing its revenues and should consider putting what she described as “a modest parcel tax” on the ballot to help pay for police staffing.
Quan and City Administrator Deanna Santana will formally present their proposed budget to the City Council on April 30 and after the council holds several public hearings on the matter is scheduled to vote on it on June 27.
(Copyright 2013 Bay City News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)