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Friday, June 7, 2013

Sizeable Revenues Are Welcome But Should Be a Lesson

Below you can read a memo sent by the City Manager that outlines proposals for spending an approximate $56 million in what is characterized as "one time money" -- meaning the source may not be available in coming years.

The large amount of money comes from primarily two sources -- oil revenues (because the per barrel remains way above $90) and the dissolution of redevelopment by the State and court.

The revenues are welcome and will provide a source of funds for needed infrastructure repair and purchasing updated systems for financial management and human resources management.

There are some areas not covered in the memo that need addressing:

  • Unfunded liabilities -- the City's go forward obligations on pensions and health care benefits
  • Restoring the materials budget for the City's Library system which was nearly decimated in prior budgets
  • Disaster preparedness -- the need to make certain all City facilities have supplies and equipment (back up electricity) in the event of a major earthquake
The funds will be discussed by the Council so there is plenty of time to  respond to the proposals.

What should be instructive in all of this exercise to spend this large sum of money is the fact that all these very years in which redevelopment was in place -- capturing 42 percent of the City and the tax increment in 42 percent of the City -- the rest of the City was going without those property taxes. While it was  a well intended effort to reduce blight, the fact remains that the City's general fund lost $9 -20 million dollars a year in taxes. These taxes are now being restored to the City because of the dissolution of redevelopment.

Blight in Long Beach still needs to be dealt with strict code enforcement and holding land owners and businesses responsible.

Redevelopment and the taking of tax increment were allowed without a vote of the taxpayers. The lesson that should be learned is that this should never happen again.

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