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Long Beach City Council passes $93.5M budget with tax hike

Long Beach City Hall is shown in this

Long Beach City Hall is shown in this 2013 file photo. Credit: Tara Conry

Long Beach City Council members voted Tuesday night to approve a $93.5 million budget with a 1.26 percent tax hike for the next fiscal year.

The budget calls for an average property tax increase of $56 per homeowner, plus $68 in additional water and sewer fees for the fiscal year from July 1 through June 30, 2018.

City Councilman Scott Mandel asked to reduce the sewer and water fees by one percent, saving $18 on average per home.

Council members also approved spending $14.9 million in bonds under the city’s capital spending plan for the next fiscal year. Bond spending includes $3.6 million in road reconstruction, $3.3 million in building improvements, $1 million for bus purchases and maintenance and more than $2.4 million in sewer upgrades. Long Beach is expected to receive $5.5 million in state and federal aid.

The budget raises taxes to the state-mandated tax cap of 1.26 percent to match rising city costs and to make payments on long term debt and interest.

The state comptroller reviewed the city’s budget last week and found the revenue and expenses were reasonable, but recommended reducing overtime. The city has directed all overtime be requested in advance and capped overtime for the city’s paid fire department.

Police and fire department unions argued that the budget does not include officer union contracts.

Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman also cited an additional $1 million in rising health care costs and about $575,000 in contractual salary step increases and retirement and pension costs.

City officials plan to save $400,000 under a new eight-year contract with civil service employees, who agreed to forgo a raise in the first year, which could increase to 2.5 percent in subsequent years.

The budget includes $9.4 million in reserves and $200,000 in improved bond rating interest after Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the city’s bond rating to Baa1 and affirmed a positive outlook in February.

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