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Proposed Long Beach budget calls for 12% tax increase

Long Beach officials said that daily operational costs

Long Beach officials said that daily operational costs and funds used to make repairs after superstorm Sandy have put the city in a fiscal crunch. Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin/ALLislandAeria / Kevin P. Coughlin

Long Beach residents will be asked to pay 12.36 percent more in taxes under the city’s proposed $95 million budget for 2018-19, city officials said Friday.

The tax hike equals an average $33 per month property tax increase for Long Beach’s 33,000 residents, or about $400 per year. The city will vote to pierce the 2.64 percent tax cap.

The proposed budget includes an additional $1.7 million in city spending and operating costs, while the city’s revenue is projected to decrease by $2.6 million.

The budget includes $830,000 in contractual raises to city workers, which accounts for about a 2.27 percent property tax increase. The city is also obligated to pay a $400,000 increase in health care costs, which account for a 1 percent tax hike. Health care costs have risen 24 percent in the past three years, costing the city an additional $2.4 million, according to the city’s budget overview.

Acting City Manager Michael Tangney said in a letter to residents posted on the city’s website that daily operational costs and repairs after superstorm Sandy have led to the city’s tight fiscal situation while waiting for state and federal reimbursements

“We acknowledge the financial hurdles the city has faced since the inherited fiscal crisis in 2012 have not gone away,” Tangney said.

He said the proposed budget preserves all current programs and services.

The budget will be presented to City Council members during a May 1 hearing when the council can alter the budget based on discussions and public input.

City Council President Anthony Eramo said the council will look where it can save money in the budget to attempt to lower the tax hike.

“It’s a very heavy pill to swallow,” Eramo said. “I’m not comfortable with the 12 percent number unless we’ve looked at all other expenditures and revenue.”

Councilman John Bendo said the council has yet to meet to look for trims, but he was concerned about the possibility of borrowing.

City Council members on Tuesday failed to pass $2.1 million in bonds to fund separation payments to 58 current and former employees.

The city is slated to run out of funding in the next three weeks, and city leaders have said they will not be able to make June payroll.

City officials have said the city may lay off city workers, police and firefighters before the new fiscal year begins to avoid a city shutdown.

Tangney did not know if the city’s current fiscal crisis could lead to additional tax increases next year, but said $2.1 million in revenue had to be made up before July 1.

“Nothing’s off the table,” Tangney said.

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