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Oakland City Council Holds Long Hearing On Budget, But Postpones Action

OAKLAND (CBS SF)  -- The Oakland City Council held a marathon special meeting on Monday night on the city's budget for the next two fiscal years, but didn't take any action on the subject.

Officials said they have more work to do before the budget is finalized.

The meeting, which included comments by numerous speakers, revealed a wide gap between the specifics in Mayor Libby Schaaf's proposed $3.2 billion budget for the next two years and an alternative plan that's been presented by City Council President Rebecca Kaplan.

Councilman Larry Reid, who has been on the council since 1997 and is its longest-serving member, said Tuesday that Kaplan doesn't have enough support on the council to get her plan approved.

"In my 22 years on the Council, I've never seen a worse budget," Reid said.

The City Council will hold another meeting on the budget on June 18 but Reid said a budget probably won't be approved until close to the end of the month, just before the new fiscal period begins.

Reid said he thinks Schaaf's plan, with some modifications, ultimately will be approved.

Schaaf said when she released her proposed budget last month that it "makes unprecedented investments to address our homeless crisis, build affordable housing post-redevelopment, strengthen anti-displacement efforts and pave our roads."

Kaplan wants to eliminate what she describes as "issues of duplication" between the city's Department and Transportation and its Public Works Department, as well as rejecting Schaaf's proposed cut of 8.5 full time parks maintenance workers, adding proactive trash removal, remedying illegal dumping and expanding the city's response to homelessness.

Kaplan also is calling for an audit of the Oakland Police Department "to help identify and remedy problem areas and policy directives to focus our resources where needed."

At the meeting Monday night, which lasted more than seven hours, City Auditor Courtney Ruby discussed her just-completed audit of the Police Department's overtime practices.

Ruby said her audit shows that the department is not enforcing its policy of trying to limit its overtime costs by always giving officers at least one day off a week.

Ruby said the report found 2,300 instances in which officers worked more than seven days in a row, identified 51 officers who worked more than 30 days consecutively and found that three of those officers worked more than 70 days in a row.

"That speaks to a significant safety issue," Ruby told the Council.

The report makes 21 recommendations to improve the department's overtime practices and the department has agreed to 17 of them so far and says two additional recommendations are reasonable, Ruby said.

City Administrator Sabrina Landreth didn't directly respond to Ruby's audit at the meeting, but told the councilmembers that one reason police overtime calls are high is "the number of calls for service is very high for a city of our size."

Landreth said, "Even if there were full staffing (in the Police Department) there wouldn't be a significant reduction (in overtime costs) because the number of calls would still be high and the number of officers would be low compared to the number of calls."

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