With less than a week left to balance Oakland's budget, the City Council released a series of proposals aimed at filling a crippling $58 million deficit, which threatens to shut down libraries and cut the police force to historically low numbers.
Whether or not they can make the July 1 deadline depends on how long it takes the city and labor unions to meet each other half way.
The prospects of a compromise appear more promising than a month ago.
But to complicate matters, the City Council submitted three proposals Friday afternoon, instead of one as is conventional.
All three are based on the worst-case scenario put forward in April by Mayor Jean Quan. All three would maintain library services and keep all the city's fire stations open. But they vary in how to compensate for the money needed to keep libraries, fire stations and police positions from the chopping block while keeping Oakland's $1 billion annual budget in the black.
The version put forth by council members Nancy Nadel, who represents downtown and West Oakland; Pat Kernighan, who represents the Grand Lake and Chinatown districts; at-large member Rebecca Kaplan; and Libby Schaaf, who represents the Montclair and Laurel districts, depends on labor agreements to save the city $31.6 million between the start of the 2011 fiscal year and June 30, 2013.
Council members could not comment on details of the potential agreements because negotiations are ongoing.
Millions more would come from selling the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center if the City Council votes Tuesday to sell the property near the shore of Lake Merritt to the Oakland Redevelopment Agency.
The biggest difference is the plan to rehire 44 officers laid off during previous rounds of cuts.
There would be cuts in subsidies to the cultural arts, the Oakland Zoo, Chabot Space & Science Center and other programs.
Council members Larry Reid, who represents the Elmhurst and East Oakland districts; Desley Brooks, who represents the Eastmont and Seminary districts; and Jane Brunner, representing North Oakland, issued another version that also relies on an agreement with labor unions.
But they would cut, freeze or transfer about a dozen city jobs and install 369 parking meters.
Council member Ignacio De La Fuente, who represents the Glenview and Fruitvale districts, provided a third version that calls for five additional days of mandatory leave with pay for sworn police officers. The current number is 15 days. He also counts on concessions from the Oakland firefighters union, as well as installing 369 parking meters.
The council members splintered into groups in part so they could discuss the budget in detail and still meet the letter of California sunshine laws, which prohibits more than half of municipal officials from conferring in private with each other about city business.
De La Fuente also said he disagreed about revenue resources.
The council will begin hashing out a middle ground at their Tuesday meeting. It is likely they will need to call an emergency meeting on Thursday.
But the mood among council members seemed more optimistic than earlier this week, when Reid said passing a budget on time would be a "miracle."
On Friday, Brunner said, "We're aiming for July 1, and at this point I'm optimistic we'll be done by then."