Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said Monday that a new report indicates that her city's fiscal position is the strongest it's been in a decade.
Quan told reporters at a briefing in her office that a report on the last quarter of the fiscal year that ended on June 30 shows that the city's revenues exceeded budget expectations by almost $35 million and left Oakland with a record amount of $83 million in general fund reserves.
Quan, who was accompanied by City Administrator Deanna Santana and top members of the city's budget staff, said, "There were times when the city had no reserves, so this is huge."
The mayor attributed what she said is an improved financial picture to property taxes being up by $13.6 million, sales tax revenues growing by $2.2 million and business license taxes increasing by $7.7 million, which she said reflects the growth in new businesses opening in Oakland and new medical and transportation projects.
Although Oakland's 13.1 percent unemployment rate is significantly higher than the 10.2 percent rate in California and the 7.8 percent rate nationally, Quan said it's an improvement from the 16.6 percent unemployment rate in the city when she became mayor in January 2011.
"Oakland is on the rise, as is seen in our budget," Quan said. Santana said Oakland has had to make $318 million in budget cuts and eliminate 740 positions in the last six years to balance its budget but the city's finances are now stable and the city doesn't plan to lay off any more employees or shut down any more departments at this time.
Two of the most senior members of the Oakland City Council blasted Quan for touting the financial report to the news media before she shared the information with the council.
City Council President Larry Reid said, "The council has not been briefed on this and we should have been briefed before the press."
Reid said, "The council is tired of hearing information like this after the fact, particularly on an important issue such as the city's finances." Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who chairs the council's finance committee, said, "We haven't seen this information and they've been keeping it very close to the vest."
De La Fuente said, "This is the attitude of this administration, they don't take the City Council seriously.
This is a symptom of this mayor and it makes no sense." De La Fuente said he can't say much about Oakland's fiscal condition until he sees the report but he said "I'm a little surprised" by Quan's comment that the city is in its best condition in a decade because the city still has large liabilities for its employees' retirement benefits and just issued another $210 million in new pension bonds last month.