The budget process takes all year, but as a Council we must evaluate multi-millions of dollar decisions in just a few weeks. I am thankful for our Fifth District neighbors, program advocates and local business owners who shared their insights on our Fiscal Year 2015 budget. I’m impressed with the thoughtful questions and genuine interest in both the process and potential impacts of decisions. I appreciate the respectful inquiries asked of our City leaders and their prompt and professional responses that allowed us to make informed decisions that allow us to become a better Long Beach.
As I’ve mentioned in prior newsletters, the City of Long Beach will be facing cost increases for CalPERS (California Pension Employee Retirement System) during my first term. I am committed to reducing the impacts of this significant cost increase by putting funds aside in reserves. This year in the budget we were able to set aside $3.1 million to be deposited into into the CalPERS Stabilization Fund to help protect against service reductions due to rate increases when poorer than expected CalPERS investment earnings occur. If we continue to set aside funds annually and partner with our employee groups, we will be able to tackle these unfunded liabilities before they impact our service delivery to residents.
At the Council meeting on September 2, we unanimously passed a $3 billion (yes billion with a B) budget that included one-time increases of $3.8 million for city-wide infrastructure (streets, sidewalks, etc.), and $2.5 million for 30,000+ hours of police for property crime, gang related issues, and human trafficking task forces. We are also excited that the City Prosecutor was able to maintain our shoplifting program and implement a truancy intervention program that will help us get our teens back in school. We moved the Park Rangers Program to the Police Department for a more focused and coordinated response to residents’ park safety concerns. In much smaller, but important, increments we were able to ensure our services were not cut, our libraries are able to afford more materials and our park irrigation systems are upgraded to save up to 30,000 gallons of water annually.
Thank you to everyone. The decisions were not easy ones. The journey to passing the budget was outstanding. I look forward to continuing our momentum of partnership, collaboration and access on our upcoming critical decisions related to SEADIP (property development at PCH and 2nd), a world-class Belmont Pool, and the Civic Center Plan.
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