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Long Beach efficiency program improves operations, city says

Long Beach has improved ambulance response times by nearly one minute in the past year and increased issuing building permits by more than 900 percent since Superstorm Sandy, according data from the city’s new performance management system.

The “LB Stat” program monitors elements of the city’s long-term fiscal recovery plan and post-Sandy infrastructure repairs.

The program also measures emergency response times, government efficiency and economic development.

City Manager Jack Schnirman said the goal is measuring each department by performance. He said the city is giving departments the tools to save tax dollars by setting measurable goals toward more efficient operations.

“This is meant to build teamwork and empower departments with positive goals,” Schnirman said. “We’re constantly aware of our goals and weaknesses. As departments meet and approach their goals, the goal rises upward. It’s a mechanism for constant improvement.”

Among the city’s goals was to increase emergency medical service response times by one minute from an average of 5.53 minutes to 4.53 minutes. The city’s fire department has made a 28 percent improvement since July and is responding to calls at about 4.84 minutes, Schnirman said.

City officials credited the improved response times to restructuring the fire department to change 24-hour shifts to rotating 12-hour shifts with certified paramedics pre-deployed in the field rather than stationed at the firehouse.

The fire department restructuring followed recommendations of a city-commissioned $55,000 study by the Washington D.C.-based ICMA organization. The study recommended the city hire eight paramedics to staff three ambulances with paid and volunteer firefighters. The city laid off five firefighters last year, after a $900,000 federal grant expired.

“These numbers indicate a significant success in restructuring the department and public safety is improved,” Schnirman said.

The city also met other goals including surpassing its 2 percent increase in recycling tonnage, by increasing recycling by 15 percent to 2,385 tons last year compared to 2,065 tons in 2014.

The city is also tracking building permits, but has no specific goals. Building permits increased 934 percent last year with 318 new permits issued, 500 house lift permits and 3,821 certificates of occupancy.

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