Thursday, April 16, 2009

Where Does the City of Oakland Get Its Money?

Click on the graph to enlarge to see where the General Fund sources.
The City's overall budget is just over $1 billion annually. 54% of those funds are restricted and can only be spent for a designated purpose. These are some of the restricted fund categories:
  • Federal & state grants: Stimulus grants, Head Start, Affordable Housing & Homeless Services grants, COPS grants for police
  • Voter approved funds for specific purposes: Park bonds, Measure DD for Lake Merritt, creek & estuary improvements, Measure O for libraries, Measure Y for police and prevention programs.
  • Redevelopment district funds: Mostly to repay improvements in these districts
This chart above breaks down the sources of the City's General Fund. This is the fund that the Council has the ability to spend with some restrictions. The chart below in the first post shows how we spend the General Fund now.
While Property Taxes are the largest single source, they only represent 26%. For the first time in over 30 years property tax income will go down. Property tax adjustments and recent sales of foreclosed homes will probably bring our property tax revenues down about 2% or about $5 million.
Real estate transfer taxes are the next largest source, they are significantly down in the real estate meltdown. This accounts for a large part of next year's shortfall. The transfer taxes from the housing boom in recent years funded many programs including the growing shortfall in the Landscape and Light District (park, median, and lighting maintenance) which has not received a cost of living increase since 1993.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Oakland Budget Challenge

This is your chance to balance the Oakland City budget! The Oakland Budget Challenge uses approximate numbers on the deficit and costs for next year's budget and gives some of the major choices the Mayor and Council will have to balance. The numbers will change so this is not meant to be exact, but we think it gives you a good idea of the main issues.
Working with the League of Women Voters we developed this web site based on The California Budget Challenge; my office provided the funding. Many thanks to the League and the Finance Committee staff Sabrina Landreth for working on this.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Council Schedule of Meetings on the 2009-2011 Budget

The Council will hold at least five meetings to discuss the 2009-2011 Budget, all will be televised on KTOP, Cable Channel 10 and can be seen on the internet with streaming video. Agendas and video are also available on the City Clerk's page.
  • Mayor Dellum's Proposes His Budget, Wednesday, May 13, 4-7 pm, Council Chambers
  • Budget Workshop #1, Thursday, May 28, 4-7pm, Council Chambers
  • Budget Workshop #2, Monday, June 1, 4-7 pm, Council Chambers
  • Final Budget Adoption and First Reading of Ordinances, Tuesday, June 16, 6 pm, Council Chambers
  • Second Reading of Ordinances, Tuesday, June 30, 6 pm, Council Chambers
  • In addition, there will be a live televised "Budget Townhall" on Wednesday, May 27 at 6:30 pm during which KTOP viewers can call-in to have their budget questions answered on-air. Questions may be emailed to

Mayor & Council Hold April Town Hall Meetings on the Budget

Click on Graph for Larger View
In midst of this recession many urban cities across the State are facing the worst budget gaps in over three decades; Oakland faces a projected shortfall of over $70 million or about 20 percent of the general fund budget. As a community we will be facing many tough decisions over the next three months. The chart above shows how the general fund was divided in our current budget.

Under the City Charter the Mayor proposes the City Budget and the City Council, which has the final say and authority, must pass a budget by June 30th. The Mayor and City Council Members will hold joint hearings in April before he releases his proposed budget on May 13. I will attend all three town hall meetings below:

* Call to confirm location.