The Oakland City Council found money to spare several jobs and restore funding to cultural groups in passing an otherwise austere budget plan Tuesday that will result in about 80 layoffs this month.
The approved budget rescinds proposed cuts for Children's Fairyland, Hacienda Peralta Historical Park and the Oakland Zoo. It also saves jobs for neighborhood service coordinators and City Council staffers.
"We tried to protect as many jobs as we could. Unfortunately, we cannot protect all of you," said Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who drafted the proposal with Councilwomen Jane Brunner, Desley Brooks and Libby Schaaf. The council approved the plan 6-1-1, with Councilwoman Pat Kernighan in opposition and Councilwoman Nancy Nadel abstaining.
The amended budget tweaks a proposal from City Administrator Deanna Santana last week that consolidates departments and lays off dozens of employees but avoids cuts to police, fire, libraries and social services in making up for the $28 million Oakland is losing in redevelopment funding.
The council also avoided proposed cuts to arts grants and the 211 information call center, and it rejected a consolidation proposal that would have put a former police officer in charge of the Citizens' Police Review Board.
Council members identified a variety of sources to pay for their plan, including offsetting layoffs, selling a former city fire station and delaying hires at the police review board.
The layoffs now are scheduled for mid-February to give employees a full two-weeks notice -- a move that pleased labor unions.
Oakland had to approve the budget cuts Tuesday to beat the state's deadline for dissolving its redevelopment agency, which funded economic redevelopment and affordable housing projects. The city was especially vulnerable to the elimination of California's redevelopment program because it ran a large and complex redevelopment agency with redevelopment dollars contributing to the salaries of more than 200 city employees in 11 departments.
The employees that benefit most from the council's proposal include council staffers, who will all keep their jobs. Nearly half of the $1.35 million in restored budget funding next fiscal year will go to City Council offices to help offset the loss of redevelopment funds that paid for council members and their staff.
"We were looking at positions that directly connect the community with city services," Schaaf said, explaining the move.
Kernighan said she voted against the proposal because she thought the council should have agreed to take some funding cuts and because she objected to the council restoring an administrative job at the expense of a rank-and-file employee.
It's unclear how many city workers will be laid off under the amended budget. Santana originally proposed 81 job losses, but that didn't include potential layoffs of council staffers had the council agreed to a recommended funding cut. The amendments approved by council members would save a few jobs overall, but Mayor Jean Quan asked that city leaders identify funds to bring back a couple of more positions, namely a business development coordinator and a graphic designer, which council members eliminated to restore other positions.
"It's going to be very hard to live without them," she said.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.