Mayor Robert Garcia reveals the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget during a news conference Monday morning. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.
Mayor Robert Garcia and City Manager Patrick H. West revealed the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget during a news conference Monday, emphasizing investment in infrastructure and public safety.
“I’m proud that our budget is fiscally responsible and makes critical investments in public safety and infrastructure,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a statement. “This is the largest investment to street and sidewalk repairs in a generation.”
Accounting for 17 percent of the proposed budget, the discretionary portion of the budget—the $416 million general fund—provides what is seen as critical city services, like police (48 percent), fire (19 percent), parks (7 percent), streets (8 percent) and library services (3 percent).
The general fund primarily relies on the general tax revenue, which makes up 59 percent of the general fund sources, officials stated.
“Long Beach is on a roll,” said City Manager Patrick H. West in a statement. “We are in the middle of unprecedented levels of investment both public and private. We are walkable, bikeable, and truly a great city to live, work, and play.”
Under Measure A, the following one-time funds have been allotted for the next fiscal year:
- $1 million will go toward the new Neighborhood Safe Streets Initiative
- $4.3 million will support the fourth back-to-back Police Academy with a maximized number of recruits
- $750,000 will be allotted for safety camera network modernization and expansion
The following non-Measure A funded public safety initiatives include:
- Adding 28 full-time equivalent for Metro Blue Line enforcement
- Structural funding of the Long Beach Fire Department’s Homeless Education And Response Team (HEART)
- Adding two firefighter/investigators to conduct marijuana inspections and assist with team-based marijuana enforcement
Officials noted that for the next fiscal year, the Measure A investments in infrastructure total an additional $26.3 million.
“Measure A is a much needed supplement to the $69.3 million in funds anticipated from local, state and federal sources,” officials stated in a release.
The proposed Measure A investments in public infrastructure for the next fiscal year include:
- $14.3 million in new funding for mobility programs like arterial street improvements, paving unpaved alleys, curb cuts and other sidewalk repairs, smart street lights, signage and finishing the slurry sea for every residential street started this year.
- $4.3 million in new funding for Public Facilities repair and improvements to public safety buildings, libraries, a Health facility, the convention center, and to initiate a Facility Condition Assessment.
- $6.1 million in new funding for the City’s Parks and Recreation infrastructure, including funding to improve the Houghton Park Community Center, Fourth Street Senior Center, athletic fields, the historic ranchos, and citywide irrigation upgrades.
- $1.6 million to improve and repair the city’s storm water pump stations.
The new budget will also invest in other strategic focus areas, including:
- Forming a Transportation Mobility Bureau
- Adding two positions for Long Beach Bike Share program and LA Metro initiatives
- Adding a new pothole crew to enhance response to requests
- Address the city’s ADA requirements
Homelessness, using Measure MA (marijuana tax) to fund
- Two additional firefighter/paramedic positions to permanently staff the HEART Team
- Quality of Life teams
- Homelessness Rapid Response
- Multi-Service Center operations
- Adding two more Clean Teams for beautification/trash clean up
- Focusing on recycling and waste diversion by raising refuse rate to address Refuse Fund structural deficit
- Increase staffing in the Economic Development and Development Services departments by adding two new positions for oversight of Urban Commons lease and maintaining city-owned properties
- $550,000 in one-time funds for a study to support: Noise Element, Open Space Element, Zoning Code Assessment, North Long Beach Uptown Plan, and Short Term Rental Ordinance
Arts and Culture
- $550,000 in one-time funds for two Beach Streets events throughout the year (link to CSULB Beach Streets)
- $50,000 in one-time funds for next year’s Pow! Wow! Art mural event (link)
- Investment in Arts Council with $50,000 1-to-1 match and $50,000 on-going
- $75,000 for the city’s reappraised art collection insurance at Long Beach Museum of Art
Innovation and Efficiency
- Continue locally funded restructured Innovation Team that helps departments with high-priority issues
City Departments New Initiatives
- Improve hiring process
- Animal Care Services-two new positions to conduct animal intake and outreach for rehoming and adoption services
- $800,000 to develop a single phone number system for the city, including 9-1-1 automatic location identifier
- Develop new digital platforms
- Invest in geographic information system (GIS) based open data enhancements
- Website improvements
- $400,000 for Fiber Communications expansion, $100,000 in one-time funds to maintain GEO HUB open data and $750,00 in one-time funds for other urgent technology upgrades
The proposed budget also supports City Council priorities, setting aside $286,000 in one-time funds to continue offering Sunday library hours at current locations; a one-time fund of $110,000 for an Office of Aging position; one grant-funded position in the Office of Equity, $66,000 in ongoing funds for the Municipal Band and $192,000 in one-time funds and $80,000 in ongoing funds for the current Be SAFE locations.
City officials have also identified significant unfunded high priority needs that need to be considered first if new revenue is identified, including a budget for watering parks and medians ($1.2 million), unrepaired damage to buildings from recent storms (almost $5 million), stormwater protection upgrades (nearly $10 million), park tree and grass median removal and replacement (starting at $500,000 annually), and a backlog of maintenance, capital improvement and technology projects.
While the FY 18 General Fund budget is structurally balanced, officials said Long Beach faces future shortfalls that are driven primarily by pension increases. In addition, FY 2017 revenues were not as strong as hoped “primarily due to property tax appeals in the Port area,” officials stated.
To balance next fiscal year’s budget, officials said the city will use the non-functional CalPERS stabilization fund to fund critical one-time needs, and use Measures A and MA projections based on preliminary estimates. The city is also keeping in mind future budget situations, such as the price of oil, extraordinary pension cost increases, future employee bargaining agreements, litigation, unfunded needs in technology and other infrastructure, new initiatives, the occupancy of the new civic center and associated development, federal and state actions, and the impact of Measures A and MA along with continued economic development.
Officials are looking to focus on strong economic development with a projected $2.5 billion in private investment, among other things.
The Long Beach City Council was expected to review and discuss the proposed budget Tuesday afternoon, followed by a series of meetings by the Budget Oversight Committee throughout August that will provide recommendations to the City Council.
The public will have opportunities to engage in the budget process over the next month through planned budget hearings, community budget meetings, surveys on funding priorities and openLB to explore the proposed budget visually.
For more information about the budget, or to access the Community Budget Book, the Budget Priority Survey, the City Manager’s Budget Presentation, Mayor Robert Garcia’s Budget Message and information about budget hearings and workshops where residents can provide input, visit the Finance Department website at www.longbeach.gov/finance.