The adjustment comes ahead of upcoming budget discussions
By Annie Sciacca | Bay Area News Group
April 14, 2021
OAKLAND — After months of debate over how to stem a multi-million budget shortfall, the City Council agreed Tuesday to use an infusion of cash from Coliseum arena debt and federal funding to restore police, fire and other resources the city had cut in recent months to reduce a budget deficit. The money comes to Oakland after the California Supreme Court in December rejected the Warriors’ appeal of an appellate court’s finding that the team owes Oakland and Alameda County millions in debt for the work. Oakland and Alameda County each get $10 million back from the basketball team.
The City Council also authorized the city to receive $192 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress earlier this year, which will help close Oakland’s budget gap and also provide funding for expenses next year. About $800,000 will be used to fully restore Oakland’s Fire Department services, which had been reduced earlier this year to save money.
“It’s been a busy last few months with several multi-alarm fires, an uptick in traumatic medical incidents, and the ongoing COVID crisis response,” said Michael Hunt, a spokesman for the fire department. “As we approach what we expect will be a very challenging 2021 fire season in California, the Oakland Fire Department needs every resource available to protect lives, property and the environment.”
Earlier plans called for closing three stations at a time from January through June to save about $5 million. After residents and firefighters complained about the potential danger that posed after years of catastrophic wildfires, the city reduced the cut to closing one fire station at a time, on a rotating basis. Starting this week, the fire department planned to be fully staffed, according to an email sent by Deputy Chief of Operations Nick Luby to department employees.
The budget adjustments approved by the City Council on Tuesday also included funding to start fire prevention services early in the year “due to the expansion of fire services,” according to a budget memo.