Dellums looks at layoffs to ease the budget crisis

June 22, 2010 7:16:12 PM PDT
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums held a news conference to present a budget proposal to close the city's budget deficit.

The city has a $30.5 million deficit, and at least four City Council members and Delluns agree police cuts are necessary. The questions is, how many and when.

Two unknowns will impact the numbers and timing -- first, will officers agree to pension concessions for an $8 million savings? And second, will voters pass two November ballot measures that would increase revenues?

If neither happens, 200 officer positions will have to go. Dellums looked at three options for immediate layoffs: zero, 80, or 150 -- with re-hiring or more layoffs later depending on what happens with concessions and the voters.

"We chose to take by my direction, the City Administrator Dan Lindheim and I, the prudent course was 80, which at the end of the day means 53 human beings," he said.

The police union wants a promise of no layoffs for two years, in return for taking on more pension contributions.

City officials say it can't make that promise, because the deficits are expected to grow, ballooning to $65 million in 2013.

"Oakland's budget problem is not a one-year problem. Trust me, that is not the case. We're looking at two, three years out so there's no instant silver bullet fix here," Dellums said.

On Tuesday, the Oakland Police Association held a job fair for officers who might soon be unemployed. Officer Billy Matthews has been on the force for 2.5 years. He says he's willing to give the city the concessions.

"I love it here, I love this job and to know that I might possibly lose my job is definitely frustrating, hurtful, all those things," he said.

The council votes on Thursday.


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