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OAKLAND The lines have been drawn in Oakland's budget battle with council members releasing competing proposals that pit the needs of the police department against a strong push for employee raises.
Pat Kernighan's plan, released Friday, would preserve Mayor Jean Quan's call for five additional police dispatchers and also fund 10 additional civilian jobs in the police department, including investigators, evidence technicians and crime lab specialists.
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A counter proposal from Council members Desley Brooks, Larry Reid and Noel Gallo would reject Quan's call for the five police dispatchers, provide no funding for additional civilian jobs in the police department and eliminate the city's contract with the California Highway Patrol to help police Oakland streets. Their plan would commit more than $3 million a year to fund a 3 percent raise for civilian employees who have gone without a cost of living increase since before the financial crisis.
"It is a very imprudent thing to do because it creates a deficit later," she said. "They're risking having to lay people off down the road."
The council, which has until the end of the month to pass a two year budget, will debate the proposals at a June 13 budget hearing. Both plans make relatively small adjustments to Quan's proposed two year, $2 billion budget which calls for four police academies to Omega Seamaster Professional Quartz
Kernighan countered that the proposal was fiscally reckless because it committed millions in one time revenue, such as anticipated proceeds from the sale of city buildings, for ongoing expenses such as raises and new positions.
In explaining why his team's plan included 15 fewer police department jobs that Kernighan's, Councilmember LarryReid noted that the council had already approved 20 new civilian jobs for the police department earlier this year.
"When we needed help (balancing prior budgets), the city employees stepped up to the plate, so we decided to see if there was some consensus on the council for us to do something for the city employees," he said.
Competing budget plans would fund 15 new jobs in police department or employee raises
economy improving, council members are under pressure from competing forces to increase spending, even though the city has more than $1.5 billion in unfunded Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra liabilities. Public safety advocates are urging council members to hire civilians to beef up the police department's investigative capacity. The department has lost 37 percent of its civilian workers over the past five years. But civilian unions, whose contracts expire at the end of June, are demanding pay raises after years of concessions.
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While the proposals differ over raises and police funding, there are areas of agreement. Both would restore a job at the Oakland animal shelter and funding for a Head Start program as well as increase spending to abate illegal dumping and graffiti vandalism. However, Kernighan's plan includes less money to deal with blight and would not provide funds to open a soon to be completed youth center in West Oakland.
boost police staffing to about 700 officers.
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