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Long Beach city manager tackles spending

Long Beach City Hall is on Park Avenue.

Long Beach City Hall is on Park Avenue. The police station and fire department are attached to the building. (June 21, 2011) Credit: T.C. McCarthy

Four days into his job as Long Beach city manager, Jack Schnirman is doing what he was hired to do: control spending and nudge the city’s finances toward recovery.

After meeting with a wide range of city staff, Schnirman implemented spending controls, clamped down on overtime and let go or reassigned four workers.

“I’m now to be the last signature on all purchase requisitions,” Schnirman said  Thursday. “From now on everything that crosses my desk is to be signed by hand. There will be no more stamping of signatures.”

Long Beach owes $48.3 million in general obligation debt, but the true status of the city’s finances is still unknown, Schnirman said.

This week also included personnel changes. “At this point we’ve either let go or reassigned four management positions,” Schnirman said.

New hires include Karri Mollett as assistant city manager for operations. Mollett was in the public works departments in the towns of Islip and Brookhaven. She will be paid $74,500 a year.

“The position she’s replacing was previously paid at $102,554,” Schnirman said. “So that’s a significant savings to the city.”

Schnirman said he’s working with legal counsel to declare a fiscal emergency, which would give him more authority to veto what he deems nonessential spending, even if it’s already in the budget.

“Departments will have to meet additional thresholds in order to spend money,” he said. “The money will not only have to be budgeted and deemed good purchasing policy, but it will go to me for final signature.”

He and the five-member council plan to announce a fiscal emergency by their Jan. 17 meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. on the sixth floor of Long Beach City Hall, 1 West Chester St. — CANDICE RUUD

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