OAKLAND -- City leaders are proposing to lay off the equivalent of 105 full-time employees and consolidate several departments to close a sudden $28 million deficit following the loss of redevelopment funding.
The proposal, which will go to the City Council Wednesday, preserves public safety, library and social service funding, while merging numerous departments to save on administrative costs.
City officials could not say Monday exactly how many city workers were slated to lose their jobs, but given that redevelopment paid for the equivalent of 159 full-time city workers, the proposed layoffs were less severe than originally anticipated.
"We saved a lot of services; we saved a lot positions by reorganizing the city," Mayor Jean Quan said.
However, the proposal formulated by City Administrator Deanna Santana scales back hours at several recreation centers, lowers subsidies to the Oakland Zoo and Children's Fairyland, cuts art grants and reduces from nine to five the number of neighborhood service coordinators.
Most of the cuts will impact economic development efforts, Quan said, including programs that funded business facade improvements, graffiti removal and the recent pop-up businesses in storefronts along Broadway. "A lot of the things that have been successful in turning these neighborhoods around and producing long-term sales taxes won't be there," the mayor said.
The proposal does not count on union concessions. Steve Stallone, a spokesman for the city's largest bargaining unit, SEIU Local 1021, said his members were still going over the proposal and would bring their concerns to the mayor.
The City Council must approve some budget-balancing plan before the redevelopment agency is dissolved on Feb. 1. Layoffs are scheduled to go into effect Feb. 3.
A state Supreme Court ruling last month effectively eliminated state-subsidized redevelopment, a program that provided cities additional property tax funds for fighting blight and building affordable housing but left the state on the hook for helping fund school districts that lost property tax funds to city and county redevelopment agencies.
Oakland was especially vulnerable to the ruling because it had one of the most active redevelopment programs in the state, with redevelopment dollars funding positions in 11 city departments.
Rather than lay off only those employees whose jobs were funded by redevelopment, city leaders instead are proposing overhauling operations to more efficiently provide services while retaining nearly half of its redevelopment staff to help wind down projects.
Proposed consolidations include combining the Office of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Human Services; placing Risk Management and Benefits under Human Resources; having police and fire share administrative services; and moving key administrative functions for several departments into a single Administrative Services Department.
The Community and Economic Development Agency, which housed most of the city's redevelopment activities, is slated to lose the equivalent of 42 full-time positions and be dissolved into four offices. Public Works would lose the equivalent of 23 full-time jobs, resulting in slower response times to calls about illegal dumping.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.