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Despite Millions More In New Taxes, City Mgm't Resists Restoring Police Officers And Fire Engines For Taxpayers; 17 Officers Restored Out of 208 Erased, And LBPD Mgm't Puts Restoring Officers LAST Among Its Budget Priorities; Fire Stn 17 Remains Without Fire Engine is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(Updated text Feb. 10, 2017 from Feb. 9) -- Internal City Hall memoranda reveal city management resistance to restoring further police officers and firefighting resources for LB taxpayers beyond levels currently budgeted or possibly added to the FY17 budget.

In memos dated Jan. 9, 2017 and Feb. 1, 2017, city management informed all Councilmembers and Mayor Robert Garcia that the Council can restore NLB paramedic Rescue 12 (long-sought by Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, supported by a November 2016 Council vote) and add nine police officers to staff LBPD's police training academy (LBPD management's top budget priority) if the Council defers a number of residential street repairs and infrastructure projects that voters/taxpayers were told the City would fund using the Mayor/Council-sought ("blank check") Measure A sale tax increase. The memos, from City Hall's Financial Mgm't Bureau. are attached to a Feb. 14 City Council item agendized by Vice Mayor Richardson, joined by Councilmembers Gonzalez, Mungo and Uranga, who seek Council support to re-allocate (without opposition from city management) some Measure A (sales tax increase) funds to restore Rescue 12 and the police academy training officers.

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Despite LB City Hall's anticipated receipt of millions of dollars in new revenue annually from the Mayor/Council sought Measure A sales tax increase, plus LB's marijuana tax, plus a Countywide parcel property tax increase (parks), plus a Countywide sales tax increase (transportation), city management doesn't recommend or offer options for restoring any further police officers (beyond 8 officers added by the Council (Sept. 2016) in FY17 plus 9 officers deemed feasible now) or for restoring Fire Engine 17 (Stearns Park, sought by Councilman Supernaw) or Fire Engine 101 (second downtown engine previously budgeted in view of density and high rise risks.)

And city management's Feb. 1 memo indicates that LBPD management lists restoring police officers as its LOWEST of five current budget priorities, and doesn't recommend restoring ANY police officers for taxpayers (beyond the 19 officers indicated above) until LBPD receives funding for multiple, costly other items.



According to Financial Management's Feb. 1 memo, LBPD management assigns a higher budget priority to rehabilitating and rebuilding LBPD's police academy (one-time cost $4 million-$7 million), plus funding for recruitment efforts ("restore Police Cadet Program to promote a career pathway available to youth upon graduating from high school" and funding background investigations), data analytics ("support for gang/intelligence analysts, intelligence technology, upgrade of Record Management System, 14 analysts, technical staff and administrative support") and jail division operations -- which would collectively cost $7.3 million -- before restoring police officers.

If a Council majority were to accept these budget priorities, and first find $7.3 million in ongoing funding, plus $4 million-$7 million in one time funding, LBPD management prioritizing restoring some specialized units ("expand the Mental Evaluation, Quality of Life, Patrol Resource Officer, and C-Cat teams; creation of a Violent Crimes Impact Team and Community Engagement Liaison;...civilian FTEs to expand the Forensic Science Services Field Team and support the registrant desk." This would amount to "43 sworn and civilian positions" with an ongoing annual price tag of $5.9 million.

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In its Feb. 1 memo from Dir. of Financial Management John Gross to City Manager Pat West for LB's Mayor and Councilmember states in pertinent part:

Staff also revisited the City Measure A Plan and was able to recommend the restoration of the Police and Fire Department's number two priorities through deferring $1.5 million in residential street repair until FY 18. In addition to the public safety restorations, staff reviewed other Public Safety infrastructure needs that are time sensitive. Therefore, staff is proposing an additional $500,000 in residential street repair be deferred until FY 18, in order to advance funding for time-sensitive Fire Station roof repair projects.

In conclusion, the Police and Fire Departments' top priorities are being addressed through the recommended reallocation of Measure A funds. All other new funding sources will continue to be evaluated as part of the FY 18 budget process along with evaluation of other expense and revenue drivers. Staffs preliminary analysis indicates that the new funding sources will be needed to maintain public safety services and will not be available to increase public safety services. Funding of additional public safety priorities is recommended to be addressed through the FY 18 budget process which will commence in March 2017 with an updated three year fiscal outlook.



If LB's policy-setting City Council were to accept these management-stated priorities, LB taxpayers would end up with 17 more budgeted officers than a year ago (8 restored in FY17 budget plus 9 more now) out of 208 officers erased since FY10, leaving over 90% of officers erased in previous Council budgets not restored. Since FY10, LB Council votes have "balanced the budget" in part by letting LB's citywide deployable police level fall; it has now reached a thin citywide deployable per capita level roughly equivalent to what Los Angeles would have if its Mayor and Council erased roughly 30% of LAPD's officers.

During this period, Council majorities also approved double-digit city management raises (Nov. 2013, 7-2, Johnson and DeLong dissenting), agreed to spend millions in up-front costs with annual escalating annual sums expected to start in mid-2019 to let a private entity tear-down, build and operate for 40+ years a new Civic Center (without the Council seeking bids for a City Hall seismic retrofit, Dec. 2015, 9-0.)

On Feb. 7, 2017, the City Council voted to approve a new contract for LB's police officers' union providing 9% raises over three years (annual cost by FY19 = $14.3 million) that city management said it plans to fund in part in FY17 with "less conservative budgetary actions such as reducing charges for insurance and funding for unfunded retirement liabilities" and leaving FY18 and FY19 costs to future "annual budget processes."


City management's memos don't mention a police staffing issue that has separately reported (first again at this link): a pending proposal to have LBPD handle policing along the LB portion of the Metro Blue Line. Metro staff has indicated it wants to use 14 LBPD officers for Metro tasks...and in response to an inquiry, LBPD has indicated that it plans to cover such reductions from other current LBPD assignments citywide by using "overtime."

Mayor Garcia, who recently gained a spot on Metro's board, has publicly said he favors using LBPD officers to handle Blue Line tasks; L.A. County Sheriff (and former LBPD Chief) Jim McDonnell opposes the change; the matter is expected to reach Metro's governing board for approval or rejection later this month.

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