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Long Beach approves $6-million repairs package

The Long Beach City Council approved a $6-million bond issue to fund infrastructure repairs over the objections of a councilwoman and two councilmen-elect, who urged postponing the vote until they take office next month.

The bond issue, for $6.048 million, will pay for the reconstruction of the dilapidated Indiana firehouse on the West End, fix old bulkheads and place new ones in sections of the Canals area, improve some roads and complete other projects.

The 4-1 vote Tuesday came near the end of a three-hour meeting at which Democratic Councilwoman Denise Tangney questioned the timing - less than three weeks before the two new councilmen are sworn in and the city's yearly financial statement is completed.

"I'm asking that the public have the opportunity to look at these bonds with those numbers in mind," said Tangney, the dissenting vote.

City Manager Charles Theofan, a Republican, conceded the vote was scheduled in part with an eye toward the Jan. 3 council transition. He said that most of the projects were already under way. "We're really finishing up unfinished business," he said.

The city will be seeking short-term financing in the form of bond anticipation notes; it can't sell bonds until a credit-rating agency reviews its financial statements.

Of roughly $3.2 million in the bond issue, nearly $2.8 million is to fund the reconstruction of the Indiana firehouse. The city has already spent $2.5 million to fix the firehouse on West Park and Indiana avenues, which contractors began to rebuild in October 2008, officials said.

Though the structure, completed in 1981, is less than 30 years old, major repairs were required after construction crews discovered serious water damage and mold intrusion, Theofan said.

"It was only when they removed the exterior brick that they saw that the cinder blocks that were underneath were never properly cemented together," Theofan said. "There were gaps that you could put your fist through, and that's how water was getting in everywhere."

The final price tag for repairs will probably exceed initial cost estimates by more than $1 million, Theofan said. But, he said, it would have cost more to demolish the structure and build a new firehouse.

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