Here’s how you can be part of Long Beach’s budget process

Long Beach released a tentative schedule for the upcoming budget process this week that includes three additional virtual community meetings for residents to give input before the budget is approved in mid-September.

The annual budget dictates how the city will spend hundreds of millions of dollars on city services like street repairs, and park maintenance and how many police officers and firefighters will be employed in the coming year.

The proposed budget was sent from the city manager’s office to Mayor Robert Garcia for an initial review last week and he is required by the City Charter to make the document public no later than Aug. 2, although his office said it could happen sooner.

When it is released, a series of public hearings will follow, with the City Council and the council’s Budget Oversight Committee convening at least 10 times between Aug. 2 and Sept. 13, the last day that the council can adopt the budget and meet statutory deadlines before the new fiscal year starts in October.

What’s new this year is the city is also conducting community budget meetings. The three virtual meetings next month are scheduled for Aug. 11, Aug. 17 and Aug. 22. Interpretation services are expected to be provided, according to a city memo.

Earlier this year, city officials said the anticipated shortfall for the coming year had shrunk substantially from the original $36 million to $12 million, paving a much less painful path to balancing the upcoming budget.

However, the city lost a lawsuit earlier this year over its practice of transferring funds from the water department to the general fund, which required it to pay back $30.8 million to the water department and will now see the city receive about $7.5 million less in the general fund going forward.

The budget could have to balance priorities like funding for homeless services and crime prevention, two topics identified by voters are priorities during the current election cycle, and d other community needs with less revenue to pay for them.

Leftover federal and state COVID-19 relief funds could help soften the blow this year, but the city reported a projected $20.8 million deficit for the fiscal year starting in October 2023, which could lead to cuts if the city doesn’t find additional revenue before then.

Here’s a full list of the proposed budget meetings:

  • Aug. 2 Budget Oversight Committee 3 p.m.
  • Aug. 2 City Council (overall budget, capital improvement plan) 5 p.m.
  • Aug. 9 Budget Oversight Committee 3 p.m.
  • Aug. 9 City Council (Fire, Police, Parks, Recreation and Marine) 5 p.m.
  • Aug. 11 Community budget meeting 5:30 p.m. (Zoom)
  • Aug. 16 Budget Oversight Committee
  • Aug. 16 City Council (Health and Human Services, Public Works) 5 p.m.
  • Aug. 17 Community budget meeting 6 p.m. (Zoom)
  • Aug. 22 Community budget meeting 6:30 p.m. (Zoom)
  • Aug. 23 Budget Oversight Committee
  • Aug. 23 City Council (Library Services, Economic Development, Development Services) 5 p.m.
  • Sept. 6 Budget Oversight Committee 3 p.m.
  • Sept. 6 City Council (first potential adoption date) 5 p.m.
  • Sept. 13 Budget Oversight Committee 3 p.m.
  • Sept. 13 City Council (las possible budget adoption) 5 p.m.

All Long Beach City Council and Budget Oversight meetings can be viewed through the city’s website or in person at the Bob Foster Civic Chambers at City Hall.

Long Beach budget deficit shrinks to $12 million, but potential funding issues remain

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Jason Ruiz has been covering City Hall for the Post for nearly a decade. A Long Beach resident, Ruiz graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. He and his wife Kristina and, most importantly, their dog Mango, live in Long Beach. He is a particularly avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the UCLA Bruins, which is why he sometimes comes to work after the weekend in a grumpy mood.
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