One month after voting to place a permanent extension of Measure A on the March 2020 ballot, the Long Beach City Council approved new language for the sales tax increase if voters approve it again next year.

The non-binding resolution is similar to the original language of Measure A approved in June 2016. As in 2016, the resolution approved by the council Tuesday night prioritizes public safety spending on police, fire and paramedic services and also earmarks the revenue for maintaining streets, sidewalks and other public infrastructure needs.

A new addition to the language in the resolution is the inclusion of Community Hospital. The City Council approved a public-private-partnership deal to reopen the East Long Beach hospital that was closed after being found to be seismically unsound.

However, the $25 million the City Council pledged to help reopen the hospital was not budgeted, which now has city leaders pointing to Measure A, and its potential extension, as a means to ensure that the hospital reopens. The council voted in July to place a permanent extension of the tax on the March 2020 ballot.

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Measure A was originally designed to add 1% to the city’s sales tax rate for six years before decreasing to 0.5 % and then sunsetting after 10 years. At its current 1% rate the city estimates that it has generated about $60 million annually.

If it’s extended, there would be a temporary four-year period where the rate would dip to 0.75% to allow for the city to pay into a county-wide tax, Measure H, which has contributed millions of dollars to Long Beach’s efforts to combat the region’s swelling population of those experiencing homelessness. However, because Long Beach is at the state’s maximum allowed level for sales tax it has yet to pay into the Measure H fund.

Resolutions, unlike ordinances, are non-binding. If voters approve the extension of Measure A, future city councils can choose to honor the resolution passed by the current body Tuesday night or create their own guidelines for how to spend future Measure A revenue.

Before the vote, which was taken just before midnight, one council member hinted that the current body could look to alternate uses of Measure A funds. Councilman Rex Richardson said that the council should look at how often it updates the resolution and said that the council should consider looking at using Measure A funds to address the city’s efforts to help those experiencing homelessness.

“It should be an allowed use, maybe not forever, but while we’re in the middle of this crisis it should be an allowed use,” Richardson said. “I think Measure A should be opened up to be used in ways to help us close the gap on homelessness.”

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.