Oakland announces 'painful' budget cuts, city leaders 1st in line

Mayor Libby Schaaf said the upcoming cuts are unavoidable.

ByKris Reyes KGO logo
Saturday, December 19, 2020
Oakland announces budget cuts, city leaders 1st in line
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Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is bracing city workers for some very painful cuts, which she says are unavoidable.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland's mayor is bracing city workers for some very painful cuts.

In an email sent out Friday, Mayor Libby Schaaf said a growing budget shortfall needs to be addressed immediately.

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She writes, "We know this is painful and scary news to hear. But if we work together, we will get through this extraordinary challenge."

Other cost-cutting measures include:

  • Leadership staff directed to take 10 unpaid days off and defer any raises or wage increases for the next six months. This direction only applies to employees who are not represented by labor unions.
  • Immediate hiring freeze.
  • Reduction of overtime and discretionary spending.
  • Curtail use of temporary employees.
  • Department proposals for 10-20 percent budget cuts this fiscal year.
  • Moratorium on virtual and in-person external conferences and trainings. (City-wide training programs will continue).

"We know there's going to be some difficult decisions to make, all the options we have and whatever combination of options, none of them are good, none of them are pleasant, none of them are going to make anybody happy," said councilmember Dan Kalb.

Mayor Schaaf announced that cuts are coming to address a $62 million dollar shortfall that continues to grow.

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"Not only am I looking at a lot of the administrators to take a cut but the mayor, the city council, we also need to be a part of that equation," said Councilmember Noel Gallo.

Appearing on ABC7's Midday Live, earlier this week, the mayor said the upcoming cuts are unavoidable.

"We are out of those one-time fixes. This is a moment when we are going to have to make some serious service cuts, if we cannot get aid from the federal government," she said.

Councilmember Kalb said he is hoping for fierce debates and will be fighting for full-time city workers to be spared, as much as possible.

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"I hope most of what we do is done in negotiations with our workforce," he said.

Councilmember Gallo said he will be fighting for the priorities of the community he serves, a district that is dealing with issues exacerbated by the pandemic.

"What are Oakland's greatest needs and priorities and that is to meet housing needs, public safety and dealing with our homeless situation," he said.

Oakland has about 5,000 city employees. City Council will meet next week to hear more details on other cost-cutting measures.