Daryl Supernaw’s 4th District Community Meeting was held, as usual, on the last Tuesday of the month from 6:30 to 7:30 at the Los Altos Library. Here is a quick re-cap.
The meeting started with Assistant City Manager Arturo Sanchez (Los Altos resident) holding his adorable daughter while introducing the city officials in attendance. She was a patient child as there were about ten people to introduce. I apologize my note taking skills weren’t quick enough to capture all the names and titles.
This entire meeting was devoted to the budget. I am proud to report the Los Altos turnout was the highest for similar meetings held across the city. Go Fourth!
First up to the podium was John Gross, the Chief Financial Officer. He started off with a joke by saying he didn’t have any props, referring to Mr. Sanchez’s daughter. He explained the budget under discuss was the FY16 (Fiscal Year 2016) and which runs from September 2015 to 2016. The size of the city’s budget is comparable to a mid-size corporation with an annual budget of $2.7 billion and 38 different operations, or in this case funds.
The budget under discussion only deals with the General Fund which is 15% of the budget or $412 million. The bulk (79%) of the general fund is people driven but unlike a corporation it can’t be outsourced for lower production costs(thank goodness!). This year’s budget allocates enough to maintain services. There is $2.1 million that can be used by Police Chief Luna as he sees fit, be it overtime or gang prevention. There is an overall strategy of efficiency. The largest project for this coming year is conversion of all street lights to LED, thereby reducing costs in the long-term. The other big change this year concerns street sweeping. The schedules will be reduced to 2 hour windows and new trucks will be ordered. This is the first change to schedules in over 30 years. We really don’t like change in Long Beach, do we?
After mayoral review it was agreed that the one time surplus of $660,000 be carried over to next year. The reason for this carry over, of even this small percentage of the budget, highlights the big budget problems yet to come. The estimated shortfall between revenue and expense for FY17 is $7 million!
This problem makes this year’s budget look like a walk in the park. Long Beach has already cut over 120 management positions. Since they have made so many cuts during the recent recession, they are having difficulty finding ways to save money. Also the price of oil has dumped and we lost funds from the Redevelopment Agency. Of course the elephant is the room is the high cost of pensions over the next five years. Labor agreements are due to be negotiated but city employees have already agreed to contribute more income to their pension plan. It looks like the dreaded word taxes will be on everyone’s lips a year from now.
Here are a few of the questions and answers that came up.
Why is there a $3 million charge to the City for the demolition of the old Court House. “Funny you should ask” said John Gross. The State has reneged on its promise to cover this cost. The City is suing.
The Airport Bond rating was lowered. How does this affect us. If the airport was looking to borrow money it would be an issue. While not a positive, there in no immediate concern.
Is there concern that there is no longer a gang division of the police department? Depute Chief Beckman said that the money is being filtered in a different way and felt it was better that all divisions are involved with the issue.
Is the City spending enough money on roads and sidewalks? The streets are currently rated a 60 out of 100. Division head feels we are not spending enough but the budget does not allow more.
There is a White Tent Event at El Dorado Park on Friday evening at 6:30 to raise funds for the Municipal Band. We would love to see more than just two concerts next year! $65 gets you hors d’oeuvres and drinks.
East Division Commander, Liz Griffin will be conducting monthly “Coffee with a Cup”. Look for announcements to meet beat officers.
Supernaw wrapped up the meeting just after 7:30. He did remind everyone that the 4th is the only district without a Fire Engine. Firehouse 22 on Atherton is close in the 3rd. I vote we move CSULB to the 4th!
Hope you liked my synopsis and if you have questions call the District office directly at 562-570-4444.
Oh, and the cookies were a hit, just in case you were wondering :)