Photo by Brian Addison

Describing it as the one he is most proud of and happy to present, Mayor Bob Foster gave the last proposed budget of his tenure as mayor of Long Beach, highlighting the first surplus in ten years and the possibility of a structurally balanced budget for the next three.

Since 2007, the City’s General Fund has had to be reduced by some $134 million–while simultaneously losing $100 million a year thanks to the dissolution of California’s redevelopment agencies–and the City has had to remove 786 positions in what has been called Long Beach’s largest financial crisis in 75 years. In 2010 alone, the City was faced with a devastating $38.3 million budget reduction.

“[The City and I] have struggled through six pretty difficult years,” Foster said. “We’ve made dramatic improvements throughout the city over the past six years and not raise taxes–and we’ve done this, I believe, through sound fiscal principles… I am proud to say that the budget I deliver this year is structurally sound and it has a $3.5 million surplus. If my recommendations are followed, we will essentially have a balanced budget for the next three years.”

Overall, Foster’s address–followed by City Manager Pat West’s more statistical presentation–was positive, emphasizing generational lows in crime, the ability to provide police and fire academies back-to-back, improved environmental stability through both the Port and cleansed waters, and a restoration of some $2.3 million in recreational and Police programs. 

Additionally, $57 million in one-time funds will also be put to use FY14, with $11.8 million of that portion already allocated by the City Council for streets, sidewalks and parks for FY13; $19 million also exist in oil revenues. Foster presented his suggestions for how the remaining money should be used and adamantly pointed out that the debate over whether to use these funds for programming rather than capital/infrastructure projects is “foolish.”

“None of this capital spending would be possible without following our fiscal policies for one-time revenues and being prudent with oil revenues,” Foster said. “Every year we debate this issue… We cannot treat oil like we treat property or utility user taxes. Those revenue sources are far more stable and any volatility can be hedged with our reserves.”

Foster says his adherence to keeping one-time monies in one-time projects is substantiated by the 2008 shortfall when the City saw oil drop from $125/barrel to $25/barrel in less than six months, sparking a scramble to make up for the $6 million that was lost due to misallocation.

In their presentations, both Foster and West emphasized that fiscal prudence should continue to be exercised by all elected officials, noting that FY14’s projected surplus will cover the following years’ deficit. 

The budget will continue to go through an assortment of hearings throughout August (dates below). City Council has until September 15 to pass the budget. 

  • August 12 – District 1 Meeting
  • August 14 – District 5 Meeting
  • August 19 – District 9 Meeting
  • August 20 – Budget Oversight Committee
  • August 21 – District 8 Meeting
  • August 22 – District 3 Meeting
  • August 22 – District 7 Meeting
  • August 27 – District 2 Meeting
  • August 27 – Budget Oversight Committee
  • August 28 – District 6 Meeting
  • September 3 – Budget Oversight Committee
  • September 3 – Budget Hearing
  • September 9 – Budget Oversight Committee
  • September 10 – Budget Hearings

Contact your local councilmember for more information about the district-specific budget meetings. To read the full budget, visit

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