After lengthy discussion that went past midnight, the Long Beach City Council officially adopted the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019-2020 budget during its September 3 meeting. Some amendments to the budget include identifying funding sources to restore two fire stations.
The $2.8 billion budget, introduced by City Manager Patrick West on July 31, focuses on public safety, homelessness and economic development. Included in the budget were a list of recommendations made by Mayor Robert Garcia that were approved by the city council.
During the meeting, the city council also adopted budget recommendations made by the council’s budget oversight committee. The recommendations were for projects that would utilize anticipated Measure A funds, revenue garnered from a sales tax approved in 2016 that is used for public infrastructure and public safety services.
Per the committee’s recommendations, the city council voted to temporarily fund a $4.7 million two-year restoration of Fire Engine 17 in East Long Beach for FY 2020 and FY 2021. Fire Engine 17 was closed in 2012 because of budget cuts, according to city staff. The FY 2020 expenditure for the revitalization of Fire Engine 17 would be $2.3 million.
Additionally, the council approved a plan to fund both a short-term and long-term plan for Fire Station 9, currently located at 3917 Long Beach Blvd. Fire Station 9 is no longer in use as of this past summer because of health and safety issues, including mold. The building was constructed in 1938, according to city officials.
The short-term solution for Fire Station 9 is to build a temporary replacement onsite, according to an August 30 memo by the city manager. This means the existing facility will need to be demolished, according to Tom Modica, assistant city manager. A temporary replacement facility is expected to be completed within 120 to 160 days. “There is also an environmental review process that we will have go through for the demolition of that structure,” Modica told the Business Journal.
All told, the FY 2020 budget will have $7.76 million of Measure A revenue to fund the temporary and permanent replacement of Fire Station 9, Modica said. Currently, the city has $1.52 million of immediate funds to finance the replacement of the station. The rest of the funds, $6.25 million, are anticipated Measure A revenue that are expected to come in by the end of FY 2020.
The FY 2020 budget covers the time span from October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. The city council will hold a second procedural vote on the budget at its September 10 meeting, per the city agenda.
Throughout August, city departments hosted community hearings to garner insight on the proposed budget. “I just want to thank the city staff for all the hard work that they did [on the budget],” 5th District Councilmember Stacy Mungo said during the September 3 council meeting. “This truly is a collaborative process.”
Factored into the FY 2020 budget is the city’s $554 million General Fund, 71% of which will go toward public safety measures. The funds include Measure A revenue, which is currently financing a total of 121 public safety jobs, according to city officials. The General Fund will also be allocated to services provided by the Long Beach Fire Department and the Long Beach Police Department, such as a city jail program.
To address housing affordability, the budget will support the preservation or construction of 650 new affordable housing units for low-income and homeless residents. The Long Beach Community Investment Company provided more than $21 million in funding and garnered $172 million in outside funding for the FY 2020 budget to fund the development of the units, according to city budget documents.
The budget will allocate $680,000 to create an additional four-person clean team for the public works department, as recommended by Garcia. The clean team’s funding accounts for dedicated vehicles that are used to fulfill its mission, which is to maintain and beautify neighborhoods. According to the city’s website, the clean teams work proactively with residents, neighborhoods and businesses to remove litter and debris throughout Long Beach.
A pilot program would provide students who are part of the Long Beach College Promise program attending Long Beach City College and California State University, Long Beach with a pass to use Long Beach Transit services. The cost of the pilot program is $350,000, funded by Long Beach Transit and the Proposition A Transit funds provided from the county to the city.
More information about the city’s FY 2020 budget can be found at longbeach.gov.