May 16, 2016
Oakland City Council Finance Committee:
Last year, the City Council of Santa Fe, New Mexico commissioned a study[i] to determine the feasibility of establishing a Municipal Public Bank for that City. On January 14th, 2016, the study was released. It concluded that not only was such an undertaking feasible, but that [the] cumulative value over 7 years to the City exceeds $24 million,or approximately $3,500,000 per annum.
The City of Oakland is about six times larger than Santa Fe in population, and its economic footprint is likely a larger multiplier still. A simple extrapolation suggests that the benefits of a Public Bank to Oakland would be somewhere between $15,000,000 and $25,000,000 per year.
We, the undersigned, consider it the Finance Committee’s fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of Oakland to seriously investigate this opportunity. We believe you should recommend to the full Council that, like Santa Fe, a report be commissioned on the feasibility of a Public Bank of Oakland, including its benefits for our budget and its wider economic impacts.
The Santa Fe study cost $50,000, or about 0.25% of the potential savings to Oakland in a single year. Oakland has a different economic signature than Santa Fe, and is part of a different state, with a different regulatory framework. A study of similar breadth is therefore necessary for Oakland – and in itself would help the City Council and public better understand the advantages of municipal public banking.
Other public banking activity: On February 18 an Arizona State GOP-dominated Legislature committee voted 6-1 to proceed with official hearings toward a state public bank. On February 22 Philadelphia’s City Council’s Committee on Commerce and Economic Development held hearings regarding public banking. And on February 24 the Maryland House of Delegates held committee hearings on a public banking bill. Now is the time for Oakland to act.
cc: Libby Schaaf, Mayor
Sabrina Landreth, City Administrator
Katano Kasaine, Treasury Manager