On June 30
, the City Council passed a balanced budget with all but one council member voting in favor. Due to the devastating financial impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on city revenues, we were faced with a 39 million dollar deficit. Luckily, in 2017, some of us on the City Council successfully pushed for the creation of two reserves, the Stability fund and the Catastrophic fund, and as a result of borrowing from those reserve funds, we now are able to weather this economic crisis better than many other cities.
The current economic recession required that every city department propose expense deferrals of up to 15% so we could meet the budget shortfall. In addition to these deferrals, we were able to reduce or defer expenditures and reallocate monies from a variety of other sources.
With these expenditure reductions and deferrals, the City Council voted to reinvest in areas where there is an immediate and critical need in Fiscal Year 2021, with our biggest investments directed towards Covid-19 response, fire safety, homelessness, health, and racial equity.
I advocated for fire safety resources being included as an essential, necessary, and time critical expenditure. I was able to get support for $250,000 allocated for additional vegetation management, and was successful in getting support to fund a position in the Fire Department to oversee evacuation planning and fire preparedness implementation measures.
I am grateful to Mayor Arreguin and my council colleagues for their collaboration and support of my insistence that Fire Safety must be a priority for the entire city. This budget also ensures our staff can continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by conducting extensive COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, case monitoring, and outbreak prevention management. Given our 39 million dollar deficit, I believe this budget is thoughtful and fair and addresses our most immediate needs as a community. The process was the most transparent in my experience.
==We were able to achieve a balanced budget without any layoffs, an important goal for me during these very stressful economic times. Although the media has been singularly focused on the reduction in the Police Department, it is important to know that all departments sustained significant reductions. A sizable amount of the cost savings that were realized in our balancing challenge came from eliminating unfilled positions, and projected attrition.
==If you are interested in learning more about the budget, please leave a message at my office at 510 981-7160 and I will return your call. There are lots of details that I am happy to discuss with you.