Long Beach 4th District Meeting - February 2016 - 1% Sales Tax

A Story by Michele Kreinheder | Updated 02/26/2016 12:35pm


Daryl Supernaw’s Back-to-Back Community Meetings were reduced to one meeting in February. A special councilperson meeting was held on what would have been the Los Altos Library Tuesday night meeting to discuss the 1% sales tax increase. This is a brief re-cap of the meeting that was held on the west side of the 4th District at Orizaba Park Community Center.

This was an extremely well presented informational meeting on the proposed sales tax, with the operative word being ‘informational’.  Daryl reminded us that this proposition will be put to a public vote on June 7 and it would be unethical for an elected or paid city employee to give an opinion, or show bias. He also reminded us that the only rule of the meeting is everyone must be civil. Supernaw quoted, the very quotable former Mayor Foster, as saying, “You can disagree but don’t be disagreeable”.

Upcoming Events: WESCA clean-up that meets at 2635 E 17th Street at 8:00 am on Saturday Feb 27. The10th Street Visioning Project meets at 851 Orange Avenue at 10 am on Feb 27.

Daryl encourages you to sign-up for the 4th District weekly Newsletter by emailing district4@longbeach.gov.

Tom Modica, Assistant City Manager presented a slideshow titled “Conversation About the Future of Long Beach”. There were a total of 16 slides and he moved along quickly, putting my note taking skills to a test.

Our General Fund was $412 million last year with 69% of that being spent on public safety. The expense of government is not manufacturing but people. 79% of the General Fund pays for people, while 21% pays for supplies.

In 2007, $134 million was cut from the general fund. Over 700 positions have been cut; police have been reduced by 200 and Firefighters by 84.

The city has negotiated with employees to save $250 million on pension costs over the next 10 years.

In the last 9 years the city has held the line on spending. Investments have been made in technology upgrades and infrastructure. Focus has been placed on economic development. In FY14 and FY15 there were surpluses.

The infrastructure needs for the next 10 years total 2.8 billion; Transportation is 1.4 billion, civic (facilities) is 1 billion and maintenance is 400 million. The annual ‘need’ is 280 million over the next 10 years and the shortage is $212.4 million per year.

The police department eliminated the south division and specialty units were cut. Violent crimes and property crimes are on the increase. 2014 was an historic low. Increase in 2015 of 19% for violent crimes and 15% for property crimes.

Five fire engines, one truck and one 911 paramedic unit were cut since 2007. Calls for service increasing.

Fiscal outlook (in millions) for FY 16 is .7 surplus, FY 17 is 5.1 shortage, and FY 18 is 5.2 shortage. The price per barrel of oil is now currently at a low $25 and additional pension costs are contributing factors to deficient. Long Beach is unique is that the general fund is supplied by oil revenue.

Budget needs are streets, sidewalks, water system upgrades.

The last tax increase was in 1991 when the UUT (Utility Users Tax) from 5% to 10%. In 2000 the voters reduced the fee back to 5%. No obligation bonds have been issued since 1960s.

There will be two measures on the ballot.

1.Approval of 1% sales tax for 6 six years, and then reducing to .5% and ending after 10 years

2.Approval of a “Rainy Day” Fund which will allow 1% of the additional revenue from the 1% tax to be held to help balance any future shortfall.

The 1% tax will raise $48 million per year. This equates out to $65/year per capita. Some sales tax will be paid by visitors. A $10 purchase will have an additional 10 cent in tax.

Different cities have different methods of collecting taxes: UUT, property tax, sales tax, etc.

When looking at 27 similar cities, Long Beach would rank 13th. After the increase, we would increase to 11th. Studies have shown that an incremental tax rate does not effect buyers’ habit.

Police would restore (slowly) the South Division. Fire would restore Station 8 in Belmont Shore.

Infrastructure would issues would be addressed.

Taxes can only be raised by vote. Vote is June 7.

Unique structuring of the tax is its use will be reviewed by a Citizen Advisory Committee.

The following is a re-cap from Police Chief Luna’s presentation:

They have been struggling as a department since economic down turn of 2007. Lost 351 personnel, almost all through attrition; 200 police and 151 personnel. Kept services. Criminal investigations not as pro-active. Homeland security also must be covered.

Luna reiterated the increase in overall crime in 2015. Traffic citations down 20%. Response time still under 5 minutes.

Causes may be release of prisoners without social services, i.e. Prop 47 Additional stress on department due to unfunded legislative mandates. Increased homelessness has impacted services.

The following is a re-cap of Fire Chief Mike DuRee’s presentation:

Success of department predicated on having all the moving parts. Need Belmont Shore Firehouse and Engine up and running. Calls have increased to over 60,000. Data driven department - response priority #1.

There was a brief question and answer period.

As Los Altos neighbor Lurlie Edgecomb pointed out, there were 10 members of the public and 8 public employees as this meeting. The other council members will be holding similar meetings and I will do my best to spread the word on dates and locations. It would be a good presentation to sit through and ask questions before the June 7 vote.

Kudos to the talented Tom Monica for putting together a presentation that was easy to grasp and did not belabor the points. I never felt he was giving an opinion. He brought to mind the famous line from Dragnet, “just the facts.

Also at the meeting was John Gross, the Director of Financial Management, who didn’t give a presentation but always impresses with his talent for taking the complicated subject of city financing and breaking it down for us average folks. Warning, the following is my opinion. I thought Gross’ tie with red accents and socks with matching red accents were awesome. For a finance guy he has a good sense of style.  Plus he never eats my cookies because he is going home to have dinner with her wife, which I find endearing as well!

Michele “K” Kreinheder Realtor & 4th District Resident

 

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