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

ByRyan Curry KGO logo
Friday, May 24, 2024
Oakland mayor aims to use Coliseum, 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.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao announced Thursday her plans to balance the city's budget. She focuses on two main components cut down on the city's $117 million budget. One involves a hiring freeze and consolidation of certain positions. The other uses money from the proposed sale of the city's share of the Coliseum.

"There were some positions we felt could be collapsed together to make one," Mayor Thao said. "There were these kinds of adjustments we made to ensure we did not layoff city employees."

Mayor Thao announced earlier this week the city will explore selling their share of the Coliseum to the African American Sports and Entertainment Group. AASEG has plans to turn the land into new housing, entertainment centers and possibly new sports arenas. The sale, which is around $105 million, will help the city with its deficit.

"We are just thankful that the stars kind of aligned," she said. "However, at the end of the day we'll still be working towards helping our structural deficit as we want to be responsible when it comes to our finances."

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

The sale of the Coliseum still needs to be approved by the city council. Many on the council support the sale, but some are skeptical. Councilmember Noel Gallo wonders if they are legally allowed to sell it.

"I am not in support of it until I get clarity that legally that I can sell that property, the Coliseum property to a private entity," he said.

However, he says the sale will help bring money back into the city.

"That is where the debate is going to come," he said. "Certainly need the revenue, but at the same time I have to make adjustments here."

MORE: Audit: Absent leadership, poor communication led to Oakland missing out on $15 million grant

One thing both he and the mayor agree on is the funding of public safety. Mayor Thao's proposed plan doesn't take any funds away from the police or fire departments. The firefighters unions says they worked with the city to stay funded.

"If a house is burning, we can often get there within four minutes," says Zac Unger, President of IAFF Local 55. "If that firehouse would have been closed, or firehouses would be closed, we would be increasing those response times to 8 minutes, to 10 minutes, to 12 minutes, and that would inevitably lead to loss of life and loss of property."

He says that would impact how they respond to not just fires, but medical emergencies.

"While the population of Oakland is not exploding, the complexity of fire problem we face has increasingly challenged us," Unger said.

The city council has until June 30 to submit their version of the city budget.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here