Thought you all might enjoy some ideas that I brought to Council a couple of years ago....
Schipske Brings Package of Financial and Environmental Items
A spokesperson for Fifth District Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske today disclosed that Schipske is placing several items on the January 22nd Council agenda aimed at dealing with some of the serious financial and environmental problems facing the City of Long Beach, including a proposal to increase the transfer of Port of Long Beach funds and allow use of a portion of the transferred funds for non-tidelands area programs and costs to cushion funds taken by the State of California.
"Councilwoman Schipske is greatly concerned that the current financial and environmental problems facing the City of Long Beach need to be dealt with aggressively and creatively," stressed Josh Butler, who serves as Schipske’s Chief of Staff. "For this very reason, she is bringing five items forward to engage the City Council and the public in discussing new solutions to these problems."
The "package" of Council items includes a proposal that would limit the City Manager from increasing non-bargained salaries or giving bonuses to management employees beyond the current Consumer Price Index ("CPI") instead of the 7 percent recently approved by the City Council. "The Councilwoman feels she made a mistake in voting to allow the City Manager to give increases up to 7% without some type of provision that allows the Council to control the amount if the City’s finances warrant a smaller amount," says Butler. "No one should be receiving a 7% increase in this economy."
Schipske is also proposing that the voters be asked to approve an amendment to the City Charter that would increase the percentage of funds transferred to the City from the Port of Long Beach’s net income. The current percent is set at 10% and the funds must be used for programs and services within the "tidelands area." Schipske’s proposal would increase the transfer rate to 15% plus add 5% which would be available for use in the City’s "general funds."
"Long Beach needs financial relief from the State of California," Butler notes. "Not only has the State of California been transferring "tidelands funds" into the State’s "general funds" to help its own financial situation, but the State is also continuing to raid local property tax revenues thereby financially strapping cities such as Long Beach. This increased transfer would provide a needed cushion for our City." The increased transfer would have to be approved by the Long Beach voters and most likely require state legislation allowing the non-tidelands use.
Schipske believes that some of these transferred funds could be used to deal with the environmental impact the port is having on the area – both in terms of air pollution from trucks and cargo ships calling on the port and water pollution and trash from the re-routing of the Los Angeles River.
Butler says Schipske also feels that funds need to be transferred to help pay for the costs of the City equipping and staffing police, fire and public health departments which will be called into service should the port ever be attacked by terrorists. "The impact of this port go far beyond the ‘tidelands area’," reminds Butler.
Other proposals being placed on the Council agenda include allowing the City to use a portion of the "refuse collection fees" surplus to pay for weekly street sweeping expenses, thereby freeing up several hundreds of thousands in "general funds" that could be used for other purposes.
"She is also asking the City Council to request the City Attorney to provide a briefing on the potential loss of revenue to the City should pending litigation filed by Verizon and other telephone providers regarding the telephone utility use tax prevail," stated Butler, referring to a December workshop held by the League of California Cities at which cities were told of the problems being created by the lawsuits. The City of Los Angeles is attempting to pre-empt the massive loss of revenue by putting the issue before its voters before the court rules on the issue.
"Councilwoman Schipske wants to know if Long Beach will be impacted and what if anything can we do to mitigate our losses."
The fifth agenda item requests the City council to refer to its State Legislative Committee the issue of the current exemption from the State "Sales Use Tax" on bunker fuel. Bunker fuel is used by cargo ships and is the source of a great deal of the air pollution in the area. The State legislature exempted a portion of the fuel from being taxed at the urging of Assemblymember Betty Karnette and State Senator Alan Lowenthal.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011
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