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Long Beach proposes bulkhead, bathroom upgrades

Long Beach will vote on its capital plan

Long Beach will vote on its capital plan and budget next week.  Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Long Beach officials are proposing a $60.1 million capital plan next year, including proposals to build a federally funded north shore bulkhead, improve stormwater drainage and replace bathrooms on the boardwalk.

City Council members will vote next week on the five-year capital plan and a $97.5 million proposed 2019-2020 budget that carries a 7.9 percent tax hike, which amounts to $305 for the average homeowner.

The city plans to use $7.2 million in general, sewer and water funds, $32.5 million in bonds and a $20.4 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the bulkhead project.

The city is planning to issue a $20 million bond, with monthly reimbursements by FEMA and the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery while the north shore bulkhead is constructed over 22 months.

“Other than the people who make up our community, the city’s most valuable asset is its infrastructure,” the city’s Public Works Director John Mirando said.

The bulkhead is designed to protect public infrastructure facing Reynolds Channel that was flooded during superstorm Sandy. The new bulkheading will stretch from the tennis courts to the Long Island Rail Road station to protect the city’s wastewater plant, electric substation and water treatment plant.

Other improvements include a $3 million  upgrade of bathrooms at Neptune, New York and Minnesota boulevards and a new lifeguard station at Riverside Boulevard.

The city is also planning to issue $9 million in bonds over 40 years to replace a 100-year-old water tank and $3 million to repaint a 75-year-old water tank.

Heading into the next budget, the city has $109 million in debt, including bonding for infrastructure projects. The city plans to pay off half the debt in the next five years and 80 percent of the debt in the next 10 years, Mirando said. 

Votes on the budget and the capital plan were postponed Tuesday and moved to a special meeting at 7 p.m. May 28.

City council members have not met to discuss any changes to the budget, officials said. The council can suggest amendments to the budget proposed by the acting city manager before voting on it next week. If the council votes down the current proposal, taxes will still go up 7.9 percent as the default budget goes into effect. 

“We have not met as an entire body to discuss this budget. No,” City Council President Anthony Eramo said.

Eramo asked city officials if overtime budgeted for police and firefighters — which leads departments with a combined $1.9 million — could be lowered. Contractual salaries and benefits make up 76 percent of the budget.

Police and fire officials said overtime could not be lowered to maintain staffing levels.

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