|(Jan. 10, 2018, 5:00 a.m.) -- As linked LIVE on LBREPORT.com, in a 35 minute State of the City message (preceded by a child singing "Tomorrow" from the musical "Annie"), Mayor Robert Garcia said the City Council "must take up and debate the proposed Land Use Element" [three seconds], added that "We also need to be thoughtful and have deliberations about the budget impacts of a recent lawsuit over utility fees" [seven seconds] and said he was "confident the City Council can work together to overcome all of these issues."
During his webcast televised speech at LB's Terrace Theater, Mayor Garcia never uttered the words "deficit" or "taxes." He said the state of the city is "strong" without addressing roughly $30+ million in management-projected City Hall deficits (budget spending exceeding revenue) spanning FYs 19, 20 and 21. His seven second "budget" reference related to separate deficits stemming from taxpayer litigation.
The day after the Mayor's speech, the City Council is scheduled to hold a special meeting (Weds. Jan. 10) to discuss a city-management drafted Charter Amendment to address the litigation-related deficits. If approved by LB voters in June, the Charter Amendment would let City Hall take up 12% of LB Water/Sewer/Gas gross revenue if deemed "unnecessary" by the City-run utilities. The sum could total up to roughly $26 million annually (under the utilities' current rates), restoring that amount of general fund ("blank check") revenue now disallowed or imperiled by the taxpayer litigation (requiring a vote of the people.) [LBREPORT.com coverage here.]
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The Mayor said the June 2016 Measure A sales tax increase [a general fund sales tax increase urged by Mayor Garcia, put on the ballot by the Council, approved by roughly 60% of LB voters, gives LB the highest sales tax rate among CA cities tied with only a few others] allowed the City to "expand both our police and fire service." (The Mayor-recommended/Council approved FY18 budget restored no additional police or firefighters for taxpayers beyond 17 police officers plus one fire engine and one paramedic rescue unit restored in FY17.) In his State of the City message, Mayor Garcia announced no plan to restore any of nearly 200 police officers and three fire engines that LB taxpayers had but no longer have.
Mayor Garcia cited a historic low number of LB homicides (one death fewer than in 2014) and said the City had a 7.9% decrease in "total crimes" in 2017 compared to 2016 (but provided no details beyond homicides.)
Mayor Garcia noted that the audience included invited members of L.A. and OC building trade unions (whose PACs are active in LB elections), crediting them for building Long Beach. He said cranes visible in the air show a "booming" LB economy that has contributed to a historic low LB unemployment rate. [The unemployment rate for other area cities likewise decreased and a city's unemployment is calculated on where one lives, not where one works.]
Garcia cited projects including the Gerald Desmond bridge rebuild (a Port project, not directly run by the Mayor/Council), the Civic Center tear down/rebuild/outsource transaction (approved by the Council in 2014 without a vote of the people, 40+ years of annual increasing payments begin in FY19) and construction of hundreds of "affordable" (low income/rental) housing units. He also praised LB's educational resources (LBUSD and CSULB) (that neither he nor the Council govern.)
The Mayor proposed creation of an "Economic Development Corporation," a nonprofit he said would encourage new entrepreneurs and business owners. paralleling similar efforts in other cities.
He said City Hall's "Innovation Team" (funded by a Bloomberg Foundation grant for which LB taxpayers contributed $1 million) had created what he called the "Long Beach Justice Lab" to link LB public safety agencies, health department and City Prosecutor's office in handling repeat offenders frequently impacting the justice system, endeavoring to break the current arrest/release cycle.
At one point, Mayor Garcia paused to Tweet during his speech (telling recipients it was "going great") and boasted that his Tweet would reach 20,000 recipients.
Video of the Mayor's event can be viewed on demand at this link.
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