Groups divided on what should be cut as Oakland city council discusses budget amidst $117M shortfall

ByRyan Curry KGO logo
Thursday, May 30, 2024
City council discusses Oakland budget amidst $117M shortfall
The Oakland City Council met to discuss the budget for this fiscal year as the city is faced with a $117 million deficit.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Oakland City Council met Wednesday for its first of several sessions to discuss the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Oakland is currently dealing with a $117 million deficit right now, and the deficit is expected to rise over $170 for next year.

"We have to worry the budget right now," said councilmember Dan Kalb. "We certainly have things long-term we need to figure out, but we have to deal with the current situation."

Last week, Mayor Sheng Thao released her version of the budget which uses hiring freezes and money from the coliseum sale to close the gap. She is focused on keeping public services funding, especially the police department.

"In order to close our current deficit, I instructed our city administrator Justin Johnson to propose a mid cycle adjustment that prioritizes essential services," she said last week.

RELATED: Oakland mayor aims to use Coliseum sale, hiring freeze to balance budget

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao announced Thursday her plans to balance the city's budget using the Coliseum sale and hiring freezes.

Her budget has a few hiring freezes, but OPD will retain a lot of funding.

At City Hall Wednesday, members of the effort to recall her from office want her to expand funding for police.

"Number one is public safety that needs to stat taken care of but expanded as well," said Edward Escobar, co-founder of CitizensUnite. "It is not just more police. Yes, we do need a minimum and a proper number of police to citizens and residents of Oakland, but it really should be a lot of focus on crime prevention."

Other don't agree.

Cat Brooks, the Executive Director of the Anti Police Terror Project says Oakland needs to keep social services properly funded.

"Making sure city services still run," she said. "Making sure we have after school programs. Making sure the people have social services and resources. We keep divesting and not investing in those kinds of things solely and only in the carceral state."

MORE: Recall Oakland mayor organizers collect enough signatures to move forward

The group behind efforts to recall Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao it says they've collected more than the required number of signatures to move forward.

Councilmember Dan Kalb is in favor of funding public safety.

"Certainly retaining our public safety personnel and making we are not dropping it down is critically important," he said.

The City Council has until the end of June to submit their version of the budget.

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