OAKLAND -- The City Council approved an amended budget Thursday night that includes money for two additional police academies to beef up Oakland's undermanned force.
The amended $403 million operating budget, which also restored senior center hours, eliminated an upcoming furlough day and preserved several programs, passed 5-3 with Councilwomen Libby Schaaf, Pat Kernighan and Nancy Nadel voting against it.
To help offset the added expenditures, the council voted to delay adding several positions, eliminate other proposed positions and to find a new source to fully fund an environmental study on redeveloping the Coliseum site.
Opponents said the budget amendments included too much new spending and used short-term savings to pay for ongoing expenses. They cautioned that the delayed hires will add new unfunded expenses next year when the city has to find money to pay the employees their full annual salaries.
"I'm a little worried that it's smoke and mirrors," Councilwoman Pat Kernighan told her colleagues.
Oakland is in the middle of a two-year budget. In recent years the council has had to amend the budget with additional cuts, but this time revenues exceeded projections by about $6 million.
With more money at their disposal, the council supported funding two police academies next year in addition to an academy that is already budgeted for this summer. The additional academies are expected ultimately to increase department staffing by about 30 officers. Oakland, which loses five police officers a month to retirements and resignations, now has 646 officers, compared to a high of 837 three years ago.
Council members on Thursday weighed two competing proposals that both included money for the police academies and rejected Mayor Jean Quan's request for more street repair workers and economic development staffers.
Quan, who proposed an amended budget last month, nevertheless gave her blessing to both plans.
A proposal from Councilwomen Nadel and Rebecca Kaplan tinkered less with the mayor's plan and included funds for a crime lab analyst and the senior centers.
The counterproposal, introduced by members Ignacio De La Fuente, Jane Brunner and Desley Brooks, responded to union demands by eliminating a scheduled furlough day, which will cost the city more than $1 million in added labor expenses.
Initially it appeared that the council would deadlock on the two proposals, but Kaplan switched sides, saying that the opposition had made several concessions including adding money for the senior centers.
"We were going to have a stalemate that never was going to end," Kaplan said after the meeting. "I didn't think that was worth it given how close the two proposals had gotten."
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6345.