Long Beach, CA
Long Beach voters in 2016 approved measures A and B bringing local sales tax to 9.75 in January 2017 and 10.25% in July 2017, among the highest in California and the nation.
With this new sales tax increase comes additional revenues to the City of Long Beach to be utilized for street and sidewalk repair and public safety. Mayor Robert Garcia at the 2017 State of the City stated “I am proud to report to all of you that our State of our City is strong and it is strong because of you and because for the first time in more than 50 years, local voters invested in the future of our city.” Despite passing however, this new sales tax levied brought much criticism from many local Long Beach residents citing concerns that the City of Long Beach has challenges living within its means.
Last night at Council Chambers, it was discovered Long Beach management has applied a change on how the proposed FY18 budget is estimated with the budget alternating from “reasonably conservative” to “reasonably optimistic” in predicting revenue. This surprise change sparked disapproval from multiple council members, in particular Councilwoman Price (3rd District), Councilwoman Mungo (5th District), and Councilman Austin (8th District).
Councilwoman Price (3rd District) stated, “I’m concerned about changing our policy because we want to make the budget numbers work for 2018 and this is the first time, all we’ve been hearing for the past few weeks is we’re going to have a balanced budget in 2018 and unless I missed it nobody told me that balanced budget was coming as a result of a policy change in terms of how we’re predicting revenue.”
The Director of Financial Management John Gross stated that the change would “assume that we have more operating revenues and thus we are in a better position to provide services to the city, and to the residents.”
What type of services? We are soon to find out.
This budget surprise comes just days before Mayor Robert Garcia is due to release his proposed FY18 budget.