OAKLAND -- City leaders are proposing laying off far fewer employees than anticipated, and council members Wednesday moved to spare even more jobs and provide extra notice for workers still slated for unemployment lines.
City Administrator Deanna Santana told council members that she'll have an updated proposal Friday that takes into the city's newfound understanding that it can keep an additional $7.5 million to help pay the cost of laying off workers it can no longer afford with the loss of redevelopment funding.
Santana's current proposal to slash $28 million from the city's budget, mostly by consolidating departments and cutting several programs, would have resulted in 81 city employees losing their jobs-- far fewer than the 100 to 200 job losses city leaders were telling employees to brace for last week.
Council members generally supported the plan, but wanted to preserve funding to several programs including Children's Fairyland and the 211 information system as well as to preserve neighborhood service coordinators.
Several council members also opposed a consolidation proposal to place Kelly O'Haire, a former police officer, at the helm of the Citizens' Police Review Board.
"The perception of objectivity needs to be there," Councilmember Desley Brooks said.
Oakland workers filled the chambers Wednesday upset about the proposed layoffs and the city's rush to implement them before it is forced to dissolve its
With seniority rules still being sorted out, workers said they likely wouldn't know until the end of next week if they would still have a job the following Monday.
"The transition time for employees is being handled with a complete lack of respect," Housing Development Coordinator Christia Katz Mulvey told the council.
But council members think they've managed to slightly delay layoffs andprovide a full 10 days notice.
The budget cuts presented this week were based on the city having to pay for the costs involved in laying off the employees including unemployment and pension benefits. But new information, including a letter from State Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, pointed to the city being able to list those expenses, estimated at $7.5 million, as obligations that can receive continued redevelopment funding.
Unless the state challenges that estimate, proposed by Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, the city would be able to provide enough money to scale back cuts and give proper notice to laid-off workers.
The city earlier this week estimated that the budget cuts would result in losing the equivalent of 105 full-time workers. However, because many of the positions slated for cuts turned out to be vacant, the proposal would only result in 81 actual layoffs, Santana said.
Of those currently slated for layoffs, about half worked in redevelopment.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.