Oakland may have to declare fiscal emergency as it faces historic budget deficit

ByTim Johns and Anser Hassan KGO logo
Thursday, June 27, 2024
Oakland may have to declare fiscal emergency
A special city council meeting related to the Oakland's historic budget deficit was held on Wednesday.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- A special city council meeting related to the Oakland's historic budget deficit was held on Wednesday. Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao projects the deficit to be close to $200 million for this year and next year. The sale of the Oakland Coliseum was also discussed.

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao submitted her budget proposal in May. For the past few weeks, the city council has been working on amendments based on Mayor Thao's budget.

But on Tuesday afternoon, the finance department submitted its amendments. Which means the city council now has to analyze this new proposed budget three days before the council's deadline to pass a new budget on Friday.

ABC7 spoke with Oakland City Councilmember Carroll Fife just before the start of the meeting on Wednesday.

She says this is there is "nothing normal about this budget."

She says the finance department didn't miss any deadlines, and it is just a long and slow process.

But it also means that there may not be time for the city council to discuss these often very complicated issues with the finance department.

MORE: Oakland public services could face deep cuts amid city budget crisis

Oakland is facing a historic deficit, which Mayor Sheng Thao estimates to be close to $200 million for this year and next year.

This new budget includes financial obligations that haven't come due yet, but which now have to be added to the budget.

She also says there are serious concerns that the new budget will include layoffs.

City Councilmember Janani Ramachandran says the new budget includes $63 million in cuts that will likely impact public safety.

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

That may include cuts to about 100 police officers by freezing positions.

It also includes 41 Oakland police civilian staff - which are not cops on the street.

The proposed cuts may also force the city to shut down four fire stations.

Oakland City Council President Nikki fortunato Bas says she wants an audit of all of Oakland's assets.

"When we get to our budget discussions on Friday, there is a policy directive in my budget amendments so that we can do an inventory of our assets and those needs over the next ten years," she said.

Part of this meeting is the discussion of the sale of the Oakland coliseum. But according to city council member Ramachandran - there are real concerns right now - that the sale of the Oakland Coliseum may not be finalized in time for the money to be used in this new budget.

Oakland may have to declare a fiscal emergency, so they can bypass some statutes that require minimum levels of funding.

And that they can ask for a five-day extension should they need it after Friday's budget meeting.

Mayor Sheng Thao meets Metropolitan Transportation Commission amid Oakland budget battle, FBI investigation

Mayor Sheng Thao said on Tuesday that she would be working with the city council to make sure a budget is passed by Sunday's deadline.

She also doubled down on the fact that Coliseum would be sold and that money utilized.

MORE: Oakland will sell its half of Coliseum to Black-led group looking to redevelop complex

The City of Oakland will sell its half of the Coliseum complex to the African American Sports and Entertainment Group with a new vision for the site.

Amid the ongoing budget crisis in Oakland, Mayor Sheng Thao spent Wednesday morning in San Francisco at a meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Thao, who serves as a commissioner on the body's board, took time to vote on several measures during the meeting.

Following a news conference in which she refused to take any questions on Monday, this is only the second public appearance the mayor has made since an FBI raid on her home last Thursday.

On Wednesday, Thao again refused to take any questions from the media.

She eventually left the meeting early.

But Oakland's ongoing budgetary issues, as well as Thao's legal troubles were also mentioned during the MTC meeting.

One public commenter specifically calling in to blast the mayor.

"I'm calling for the resignation from your committee of Mayor Sheng Thao so we can have a good committee," said the caller.

In addition to Wednesday's meeting, the Oakland City Council is expected to meet again on Friday to discuss the budget.

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