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Long Beach to hold one more hearing on proposed $84.45 million budget

The Long Beach City Council will hold one more public hearing before voting on a proposed operating budget of $84.45 million for fiscal 2014-2015, a $10 million increase over the current operating budget.

Council members held two public hearings Tuesday on the tentative budget covering July 1 through June 30, 2015, and on a portion of a $76.1 million five-year capital improvement plan covering the period from July 1 through June 30, 2019.

The council will hold another budget hearing at its regular meeting May 20, and must vote on final adoption of the budget by May 31.

The proposed budget, which is within the state's tax levy cap, calls for retiring a deficit surcharge a year earlier than planned and reducing city property taxes by about 1 percent, or an average of $27 a year. For households with a median assessment of $18,870, city property taxes will be about $2,876.

The city's current operating budget is $74.4 million. "This year's proposed budget is the next step in our fiscal recovery and rebuilding for the long term," City Manager Jack Schnirman said.

All city departments proposed budget cuts that totaled more than $1.5 million. Under the tentative budget, council members and management employees will continue to pay 10 percent of their health care premiums.

The tentative budget includes $1.8 million in state and federal grants, an increase of $1.1 million over this year.

City officials noted increased costs, including $3.1 million more for police salary and benefits, an additional $2.3 million for contractual union salaries, $935,000 in additional insurance premium and pension costs, and a $455,000 jump in general and flood insurance payments.

The capital improvement proposal for 2014-15 calls for $5.938 million in projects, supplemented by $39.3 million in federal and state funding.

Priorities in the capital plan include creating an office of emergency management, protecting against flooding, upgrading stormwater and sewer systems, and adding bayside bulkheads. Other projects include improving roadways and parks, and modernizing city facilities to lower costs and improve resiliency."It is critical to the City Council that we invest in our infrastructure as we rebuild stronger, smarter and safer," Schnirman said.

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