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Oakland city budget deficit could force OPD layoffs

Thomas Hawk
Flickr / Creative Commons

Oakland city officials are pondering their next moves to deal with a projected $177million deficit in the operating budget.The Bay City News Group reportsthat a shortfall in tax revenues for home sales is forcing city officials to warn employee union officials of possible layoffs or furloughs for city employees.The beleaguered Oakland Police Department – the only city division that outspent its budget last year – could be targeted for possible reductions.

Last month, former Lubbock, Texas police chief Floyd Mitchell was named as the OPD’s new police chief. He’s expected to take command of the department next month – the OPD’s third permanent police chief in five years.

The department currently boasts more than 700 sworn officers, but remains under a 20-year federal consent decree. About 80 OPD officers lost their jobs during the last layoff in 2010.

After an upsurge late last year in the overall crime rate, the OPD has reported drops in both homicides and property crime.

Mayor Sheng Thao is considering several options to balance the budget. She’s expected to announce those moves in May.In recent weeks, the City of Oakland has instituted a hiring freeze to cut costs, while many departments remain understaffed.

Sunni M. Khalid is a veteran of more than 40 years in journalism, having worked in print, radio, television, and web journalism.