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Layoffs, cuts expected in Oakland budget

September 26, 2008 6:03:32 PM PDT
It's tough times for the city of Oakland and as a result layoffs, cuts in services and higher traffic tickets -- may all be coming to make ends meet.

Oakland is facing a $42 million budget deficit and Mayor Ron Dellums says that Oakland does not live in a vacuum and that the budget shortfall is a direct short fall is a direct consequence of this country's ailing economy.

He says that the cuts will be painful, but necessary.

"Oakland is living beyond its means. Clear, simple and straightforward," said Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums.

With that said, mayor Ron Dellums unveiled his plan to deal with the city's $42 million budget deficit. He said the crisis in the real estate market contributed to much of it.

"Oakland lost $30 million in real estate transition taxes alone. So what is happening there has impacted upon us," said Dellums.

Dellums also said the city had spent a lot beefing up public safety.

"Most of it in the police department. Overtime, back filling, training academy," said Dellums.

The mayor anticipates making no cuts in public safety, but he does call for laying off 84 city employees and eliminating 48 other positions. New revenues may come from more parking meters and increased fees for citations.

But the mayor warned the cuts in city services will be painful.

"It may very well mean closing down some small parks, compromising the integrity of maintenance in ball fields, parks and other recreational facilities," said Dellums.

City workers responded by saying layoffs should be the last option of all.

"We're already trying to catch up on our image of how we provide our services to citizens," said Service Employees International Union Vice President Dwight McElroy.

City Councilmember Jean Quan says they have no choice but to balance the budget.

"What that means is we're going to have to make layoffs and service reductions until the economy picks up," said Quan.

There are still $10 million of that $42 million budget deficit that needs to be addressed, and Mayor Dellums essentially has left those options open to negotiations with the union and the City Council.

Among other options considered is an additional 120 workers to be laid off and or shutting down city government once a week. The mayor will go in front of City Council on Tuesday to make his formal presentation.


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