Ten Inconvenient Truths About Boasts That "Measure A" LB Sales Tax Hike Restored LBPD South Division
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(Dec. 17, 2017, 1:20 p.m.) -- Below are ten facts we believe merit mention after city officials staged a Dec. 16 "open house" at LBPD HQ to boast that LB's Measure A sales tax increase restored LBPD's South Division.
In the photo above, Vice Mayor Richardson is visible orating alongside LBPD Chief Luna and other LBPD brass.
John Deats, a long-time member/chair of LB's now-vanished Public Safety Advisory Commission, attended the event. He tells LBREPORT.com that if audience questions had been invited, he would have publicly asked Vice Mayor Richardson to explain how other cities managed not only to maintain their sworn police staffing despite the "Great Recession" (and have since gone on to increase it in light of Prop 47), while LB's previous Councilmembers [including now-Mayor Garcia] erased roughly 20% of LBPD's budgeted citywide deployable officers and LB's current Councilmembers have only restored a fraction of the erased officers despite Measure A (details below.)
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South Division was actually restored in February 2017 and operated out of LBPD's West Division station until renovations were compoleted in November at 400 W. Broadway. The mid-December "open house" neatly dovetails with entry into the 2018 citywide election cycle for five of nine Council incumbents and the Mayor.
The City Council placed Measure A on the June 2016 ballot (9-0) as "blank check" General Fund sales tax increase with no legal guarantees on how the Council could spend Measure A's revenue. This legally enabled passage of Measure A with a 50%+1 vote margin instead of 2/3 voter approval needed if Measure A had included legal guarantees. Here's what has now happened:
1. Under Measure A, Long Beach consumers pay the highest sales tax rate among all CA cities statewide (tied with only a handful of other cities.)
2. Despite Measure A's $40+ million annual cash infusion paid by LB consumers, the City Council has failed to restore 191 budgeted police officers that LB taxpayers previously had and no longer have. The City Council has restored a total to date of 17 budgeted officers (including 8 used to restore South Division) out of 208 erased (including LBPD's now-former 22-member field anti-gang unit.)
3. The FY18 budget recommended by Mayor Garcia and approved by the Council in Sept; 2017, has left LB taxpayers with a thin LBPD citywide deployable police level roughly equivalent per capita to what Los Angeles would have if LA's Mayor/Council cut roughly 25%-30% of LAPD's budgeted officers.
4. Despite the "Great Recession," most other cities didn't cut 20% of their police levels as LB Mayor Foster advised and Councils (including then-Councilman/Vice Mayor Garcia) did. Since Measure A's passage, Mayor Garcia and the current Council haven't restored over 90% of the erased police officers...and have made no commitment and or proposed any plan to restore any or all of 191 still-erased officers for taxpayers in FY 19 or by any date certain.
5. Despite a $600,000+ campaign for Measure A fronted by Mayor Garcia, funded by contributions from LB's police and firefighter union PACs and a number of entities that could benefit from City Hall decisions, Measure A (without seriously funded opposition) failed to gain 2/3 voter approval citywide, failed to gain even majority approval in the 5th district and nearly failed majority approval in the 3rd district.
6. Despite Measure A's $40+ million annual cash infusion, city management acknowledges upcoming deficits (spending exceeding anticipated revenue) in FY19 and beyond (after the current election cycle.) City management has also acknowledged that the City would be in a deficit right now in FY18 if Mayor Garcia and the Council hadn't avoided it by abandoning the City's previous commitment to use reasonably conservative revenue projections and instead allowed riskier more "optimistic" revenue projections. (Mayor Garcia has publicly described his recommended, Council-enacted budget as prudent and responsible.)
7. Around the corner from LBPD's South Division "open house," LBFD's Fire Station 1 no longer has its second fire engine (101) previously provided as prudent protection to deal with downtown density and high rises. Despite Measure A, and despite a Council-enacted "Downtown Plan" that encourages developers to build higher high rises, the Council has failed to restore downtown density fire engine 101 at Station 1.
8. Under LBFD's prescribed order of restorations, Station 1's downtown density engine won't be restored until the Council restores Engine 17 at Station 17 (Stearns Park area.) Despite Measure A (and previous advocacy by Councilman Daryl Supernaw), the Council hasn't restored Engine 17. (In early 2014, a residential building burned across the street from Station 17 left without a Fire Engine to douse the flames. The fire doubled in size every minute until an engine arrived from further away.
9. The City Council has restored Fire Engine 8 [Belmont Shore] and Rescue 12 [NLB] and is using Measure A for various street repair and infrastructure work [that other cities manage to provide without imposing the highest sales tax rate in CA.]
10. After LB voters approved Measure A, the Council approved (and Mayor Garcia didn't veto) raises for multiple city employee groups (including police and firefighters) and city management (including those in its "$100,000" and "$200,000" club.) Although the raises aren't directly funded by Measure A, they will consume General Fund sums and become part of budget deficits (spending exceeding revenue) that city officials can then cite to claim the City can't restore erased police officers and fire engines despite Measure A.
And Merry Christmas.
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An early morning arithmetic error resulted in our typing ninety, not eighty speakers.