OAKLAND -- City leaders will unveil a revised budget-cutting proposal Friday that could spare even more jobs and provide more advance notice for the several dozen workers still slated for unemployment lines next month.
The amended proposal from City Administrator Deanna Santana will take into account the city's newfound understanding that it will get an extra $7.5 million to help pay the cost of laying off workers that it no longer can afford due to the loss of redevelopment funding.
Santana's initial proposal slashed $28 million from the city's budget, mostly by consolidating departments to weed out top administrators and cutting several programs. The plan 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 reorganization proposal but wanted to safeguard funding to several programs including Children's Fairyland and the 211 information system as well as to retain all of the city's neighborhood service coordinators.
Several council members also opposed one consolidation proposal that would put Kelly O'Haire, a former police officer, in charge of the Citizens' Police Review Board.
"The perception of objectivity needs to be there," Councilwoman Desley Brooks said.
State-subsidized redevelopment was a boon to cities, which received additional property tax revenue at the expense of other public entities to fight blight and build affordable housing. Oakland was particularly vulnerable to the program's demise because it ran one of the largest and most complex redevelopment agencies in the state, with redevelopment dollars contributing to the salaries of more than 200 city employees in 11 departments.
With Oakland required to dissolve its redevelopment agency by the end of the month, city leaders have raced ahead with a proposal that seeks to improve efficiency while preserving funding for libraries, public safety and social services. Oakland workers said that the rush to make cuts coupled with seniority rules for layoffs meant that many of them wouldn't know until the end of next week whether they would have a job the following Monday.
"It really shouldn't have played out this way. It has caused a lot of unnecessary anxiety and confusion," said Jeffrey Levin, vice president for Professional & Technical Engineers Local 21, the union that represents most of the redevelopment workers whose jobs are in jeopardy.
But council members think they've managed to slightly delay layoffs, which had been scheduled for Feb. 3.
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 include those expenses, estimated at $7.5 million, as obligations that are eligible to receive continued redevelopment funding just like redevelopment agency contracts already signed with construction firms and bondholders.
Unless the state challenges that estimate, the city would have enough money to scale back cuts and give 10-day notices to laid-off workers, officials said.
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 result in only 81 actual layoffs, Santana said. Of those currently slated for layoffs, about half worked in redevelopment.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.