San Leandro Set to Adopt Budget Despite Steep Cuts in Other Cities

PLEASANTON IN THE BLACK, OAKLAND IS NOT; SAN LEANDRO STABILIZES ITS ECONOMY
San Leandro is set to be one of the first municipalities in the East Bay to approve a fiscal budget for 2011-12.  Its City Council was also relatively speedy in adopting last year’s budget despite far more tougher discussion. Other cities are not so quick. Hayward and Fremont, with far larger deficits are still in early discussions, although most documents are not due until the end of this month. Alameda County is also scheduled to adopt a budget June 24 to shore up a deficit at nearly $140 million after a series of budget hearings that same week.

A look at San Leandro’s fiscal health in terms of deficits in relations to neighboring East Bay cities shows the city is sitting out on another round of excruciating cuts to staff and services, which has plagued its ability to function efficiently. Oakland, with a whopping deficit estimated at $58 million has been in discussions with its new mayor Jean Quan. Recently, steep cuts to the city’s libraries roiled Oakland’s residents.

The cities to the east are facing better success in wiggling out of the Great Recession. In the graphic above, Pleasanton is the only city not facing a deficit. Dublin and Livermore, which calculate biennial budget forecasts are also showing improvement from a year ago.

Although San Leandro’s budget deficit for next year is relatively paltry as opposed to other cities and its own performance over the past four years, the secret to its relative stability is not anything specifically innovative. If anything, many note, San Leandro make deep cuts to its staff and hammered a pension reform agreement with its employee unions well before it became an issue of discontent toward organized labor. It may have hit a sweet spot in performing as a city government with the lowest common denominator in terms of service, but far from the level of help it once offered in better economic times.

-STEVEN TAVARES