OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Oakland Mayor Jean Quan cast the deciding vote Thursday night as the Oakland City Council approved a budget for fiscal 2012 by a narrow 5-4 margin only hours before its deadline.
Two rival council factions deadlocked 4-4 on two competing proposals to close the city’s $58 million budget shortfall.
KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:
At 8:40 p.m., more than four hours after a special council meeting began at 4:30 p.m., Quan said, “The two sides are only $1 million apart and if I don’t break the tie, we’ll be here all night or even all week.”
Quan sided with the proposal that was presented by council president Larry Reid and council members Desley Brooks, Ignacio De La Fuente and Jane Brunner.
The competing proposal was offered by council members Libby Schaaf, Rebecca Kaplan, Nancy Nadel and Pat Kernighan.
“I think this is close enough to make both sides happy,” Quan said of the proposal that was approved.
The mayor said the city’s budget probably will have to be modified in any event because much of the funding the city hopes to receive from the state and federal government remains in doubt because those levels of government also face fiscal problems.
Reid said he was relieved that the budget was finally approved, saying, “It’s been a very arduous time.”
The budget calls for rehiring 22 of the 80 police officers the city laid off last year because of a funding shortfall the city faced at that time.
The council was able to balance the budget because the leaders of all of the city’s major unions agreed to concessions, such as pay cuts and contributing more of the cost of their pensions.
However, the members of most city unions haven’t yet had a chance to vote on the concessions and that process won’t be completed until the end of next week.
If rank and file union members reject the concessions the City Council will have to revise the budget sometime in July.
De La Fuente said most city unions “made real contributions to make sure the city can function” but he thinks the police union should have agreed to more concessions, saying its contribution “was not a fair share” compared to other unions.
De La Fuente said he thought that the rival council faction was offering too much money to police officers at the expense of other city employees.
Drawing loud applause from the other city employees, De La Fuente said, “This is not just a police budget, this is a city of Oakland budget.”
De La Fuente said the council’s Thursday night vote avoids library branch and fire station closures that had been considered as a way of balancing the city’s budget.
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