Parker backs use of county reserves for stadium infrastructure

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, right,
is facing a well-financed challenge from former
Oakland mayoral candidate Bryan Parker.

ALCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS | DISTRICT 4 |
The Oakland Raiders are about $500 million short when it comes to financing a new stadium in Oakland while Alameda County is sitting on budget reserves of around $1 billion. Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley and June primary challenger Bryan Parker both believe the county could tap some of those reserves for public infrastructure related to the construction of a new football stadium.

Parker, a former Oakland mayoral candidate from two years ago, said the county is “over-reserved” and could earmark some of the excess toward paying down unfunded liabilities, especially post-retirement benefits, along with contributing to public infrastructure projects connected to any future stadium at the current Coliseum property.

The exchange occurred Tuesday evening during a candidate’s town hall in Castro Valley. The Alameda County District Four Board of Supervisors seat represents East Oakland to Pleasanton and includes much of unincorporated Alameda County.

County reserves are not only set aside for emergencies but to help build a strong credit rating, Miley responded. “Reserves are important. It’s part of best practices,” said Miley. “No, I won’t touch reserves. I would only touch that in an emergency situation. That’s a cardinal principle. We want to have strong reserves if necessary to fall back on.”

In an interview after Tuesday’s town hall, Miley indicated a willingness for limited use of reserves for stadium infrastructure, along with bonding. “If we’re going to do something with the public resources, maybe infrastructure, maybe some bonds—and it’s got to be limited, even then,” said Miley. In an interview Friday, Miley said the use of county reserves are “sacrosanct” and should only be used for emergencies and not for stadium construction or infrastructure. (See note below)

Earlier, Parker lauded the county administrator for building up healthy reserve over the years, but added, “They should be used in bad times. We only have to look back to the crash in ’08 and see those are times that we might want to dig down, but that’s not the only time,” said Parker. Based on other municipalities across the country, Parker added, “We’re over-reserved, meaning that if we took some reserves off the table, we would still have a very good credit rating.”

Specifically with the Coliseum, Parker said, “I think we should only be putting our money into public infrastructure,” not toward the cost of the building the new stadium.

The general use of public money to fund infrastructure, such as roads, sewers and other public works projects connected to a new stadium has long been advocated by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. The city and county jointly own and operate the current Coliseum property. Miley, though, has often suggested the county sell its stake in the property, although he said Tuesday night he still supports a much cheaper remodel of the Coliseum, instead.

NOTE: A clarification was added to Miley’s answer for using reserves on stadium-related financing.