I took action to help provide a more transparent budget process for the City of Oakland. At the May 10, 2021, City Council meeting, I expressed concern about the lack of transparency and missing information for the public in the Mayor’s FY ’21-’23 proposed budget. Using my wide experience of the budget process, I produced and screen-shared a comprehensive spreadsheet of the Mayor’s department funding changes to enable the public to have the information. I created the spreadsheet gathering the online data into Excel, and calculating year-over-year proposed changes by Department, in both dollars and percentages. The data indicates that the Mayor plans to cut funding for departments that the Oakland community has repeatedly voiced must be supported, such as housing, community development, and economic workforce development. In addition, the Mayor reduced funding for the Planning and Building Department -- even though that department has surplus funds. These cuts to staff who process permits and related work make it harder to open a business, or build housing or other vital projects in Oakland -- and thus also reduces jobs and revenues for the City.
Link to my Spreadsheet of the Mayor’s Proposed Funding Changes by Department: https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:644af703-e62c-4d2b-abbe-5716eefbf4a9
The powerpoint presentation of the Mayor/Administrator’s proposed budget, stated that it would “reinstate prudent fiscal policies,” however, the actual Resolution they posted online with the budget proposal included a Resolution to waive the fiscal policy, rather than following or reinstating it. Furthermore, a Resolution was prepared authorizing giving grants to a list of community organizations, but the Grant allocation resolution was not included in the public packet. The Grant Resolution can be found here that was listed under harder to find weblinks.
In addition, many public speakers noted that the Mayor is in violation of the law passed in 2013 - City of Oakland Budget Transparency & Publication Law, which requires the Mayor to release the budget by May 1st, and to provide it in a publicly-accessible format, which has not yet been provided.
Given the lack of transparency with the version of the budget provided thus far, the Council voted to direct that a fully searchable PDF, and printed and printable copies of the proposed budget be released to the public by May 14, 2021, and that any Budget Resolutions, such as those giving grants and those waiving fiscal policies, must be included in the official agenda packet for the Council meeting so the public can readily access the vital information. In addition, the Council motion, at my request, included a directive to provide a breakdown of “non-departmental” and “city-wide” sections of the City budget, under which vast millions of dollars had been allocated without explanation.
The Oakland Budget, with the additional materials directed by Council, will be returning to Council at a Special Budget meeting on May 26th at 9:30am.
Meanwhile, the online version of the current budget materials can be found at:
Council President Nikki Bas will host her Budget Town Hall Wednesday, May 12, 2021, at 4:30pm at Lincoln at Square Park and online!
Oakland Vice Mayor