Residential property owners in Long Beach will be on the...

Residential property owners in Long Beach will be on the hook for a nearly 10% tax increase after the city council passed a $103 million budget Tuesday. Credit: Newsday/John Keating

The Long Beach City Council passed a $102.1 million budget Tuesday that will raise residential property taxes nearly 10%, an annual increase of about $462 on the average homeowner.

Council members unanimously approved budget amendments Tuesday night, eliminating operational tax increases proposed by the city, and dropping the proposed tax hike from 12.39% to 9.97%. The 2023-24 budget takes effect July 1.

The entirety of the tax hike was the result of $5.5 million the city must pay developer Sinclair Haberman, the first installment of the $75 million settlement the city reached with him last year, said City Council President John Bendo during a special meeting Tuesday night. The city must make annual payments, starting this year, for the next 30 years, Bendo said.

In 2021, a judge ordered Long Beach to pay $150 million after the city was found liable in a 30-year-old case for blocking development of an oceanfront property owned by Haberman, who had sought to build condos off the boardwalk but remained locked in litigation with Long Beach.

Last year, the city reached a settlement with Haberman to reduce the $150 million judgment by half.

“Had we had to pay that this year, that would have resulted in well over a 20% tax increase,” Bendo said.of the initial judgment. “We zeroed out any tax increase. … Without Haberman, there would be no tax increase this year.”

Bendo said the city made other cuts to departments and eliminated new hires planned for next year to reduce $112 off the average tax bill.

The city’s revenues balance the budget’s expenses, including about $60 million in taxes, Bendo said.

This year’s budget follows tax increases of about 5% in each of the two previous years, which officials said was necessary as part of the city’s fiscal recovery from more than a decade of mismanagement, and also to stop borrowing for separation pay.

“Part of the goal of the administration now is to be more efficient and productive and finding other revenue sources to support the city long term other than raising the tax levy,” Acting City Manager Ron Walsh said.

During pubic comments, Long Beach resident Ron Paganini said he worried about the city absorbing the remainder of the Haberman settlement and urged a reduction in worker costs, including $1.2 million budgeted for the paid fire department.

James Hodge, a city council candidate in the June primary, questioned salaries of city staff, including paying Walsh $220,000 annually as acting city manager and police commissioner.

Hodge also urged the city not to pass expenses on to lower-income families.

“This is Long Beach and we’re hurting bad,” Hodge said. “As you continue to look for ways to bring in new revenue, don’t hurt those who make the least in this city.”

A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Daddona / Pfost / Villa Loarca

Uncovering the truth about the chemical drums A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports.

A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Daddona / Pfost / Villa Loarca

Uncovering the truth about the chemical drums A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports.

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