OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Officials in Oakland announced the city is implementing nearly $30 million in immediate spending cuts, as the city projects a budget deficit brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic to soar.
Much of the $29 million in cuts will be in public safety, with a $15 million in cuts to the Oakland Police Department and another $5 million at the Oakland Fire Department, officials said in a statement.
Cuts to the police department including reductions in overtime, specialized units and programs, along with the deferral of one police academy. Fire department reductions include the partial temporary closure of three fire stations during the “low fire season” between mid-January and June.
An additional $9 million in cost-saving measures were also announced, including a hiring freeze for non-sworn positions.
Officials said the cuts are necessary after the latest $900 billion stimulus package from Congress did not include direct federal relief to the city. If action was not taken, officials warned that the deficit would reach $62 million and the general fund would be insolvent.
“The City will not be able to fund essential services or respond to emergencies like an earthquake or natural disaster. Even the City’s emergency reserve will be completely exhausted,” Mayor Libby Schaaf and City Administrator Ed Reiskin told employees last week.
“Although Oakland is not alone in this crisis, this situation represents one of the most serious financial challenges the City of Oakland has ever faced,” the city leaders went on to say. “If we wait until next fiscal year to address the shortfall, the cuts would be catastrophically deep, and we will be forced to make cuts that could be avoided by acting now.”
The cuts are expected to continue through June 30, 2021. Officials said they hope services could be restored through additional federal or state aid, along with a rapid economic recovery.