Oakland Mayor Quan unveils first budget

April 29, 2011 7:53:47 PM PDT
Oakland is struggling with serious budget problems. Services have already been reduced, and more cuts are on the way. Mayor Jean Quan has been on the job four months now, and Friday she unveiled her first budget. She admits implementing it will be painful.

"We really wanted to try to be fair, to spread the pain, to have a sense of shared sacrifices," said Quan.

No city department is immune. The city has already cut people and programs, and there will be more soon.

Trying to overcome a $58 million damaging deficit, the mayor has come up with three budget proposals. You might call them the good, the bad and the ugly. In the worst case scenario the results could be devastating.

Quan is asking departments to prepare for that possibility. It would reduce the number of police officers further, closes four fire stations, close branch libraries, and eliminate the film office and art staff. All city employees would have to take 15 mandatory leave-without-pay days.

Dominick Arotzarema, president of the Police Officers Association, told ABC7 that's a matter for negotiations. He says they want to work with the city to save money, but cutbacks have made it dangerous for officers on the street.

"We've tried to be as frugal and conservative as we can," said interim city administrator Lamont Ewell.

Elected officials will feel it, too.

"We're asking our employees to contribute somewhere between 10 and 15 percent," said Quan.

The mayor says they don't know how much revenue the city will be getting. Empty businesses don't help the balance sheet. She wants to add a parcel tax, but a spokesperson for councilman Ignacio De La Fuente says he has opposed that. For residents, it becomes a quality of life issue.

"I think that's kind of a blow to the city because with all these cuts and everything it just doesn't look good overall," said Oakland resident Christopher Ransom.

"We need the funding," said singer and Oakland resident Dejuana. "There can be a way that it can be resolved. I believe it -- we pull together."

Expect budget negotiations to heat up during the next two months.

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