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    Councilwoman Richardson Says To Deal With Deficit She's Cut Her Office Budget For Past Two Yrs. Beyond Mayor's Request & Switched City Car To Reduce Costs (we post her statement)

    Challenger Chaney Says Richardson's Votes Helped Fuel Deficit...And Chaney Won't Take City Car

    (August 24, 2003) -- In a written release issued by her Council office, 6th district Councilwoman Laura Richardson says that in light of City Hall's current budget deficit, she has reduced her office budget for the past two years beyond the Mayor's requested 3.5% for a total of 8.4% over the past two years...including switching city cars in June this year that reduces her projected vehicle expenses by 42% ($6,000).

    "With each department and agency of the city being asked to find ways to reduce expenses, I believe it is incumbent upon me, as a leader in this city to do my fair share," Councilwoman Richardson said in the statement. We post Councilwoman Richardson's entire written statement below.

    Reached for comment, Regina Chaney, a teacher at LB Polytechnic High who intends to challenge Richardson in the April 2004 city election, said that to her Richardson's statement seemed "suspect coming during the approach to an election." Chaney said Richardson "helped fuel the deficit with her own Council votes. She's responsible for helping to create what she's now claiming to fight."

    As to Richardson switching to a less costly city car, Chaney declared, "I won't be taking any city car, period."

    A list released to by the Office of Mayor Beverly O'Neill in April '03, showing budgeted office spending of all Councilmembers, indicates that in the current (now ending) FY 02-03, Councilwoman Richardson -- after making reductions beyond those urged by the Mayor -- had the highest budgeted office spending: $372,413. Prior to the Mayoral requested reductions, Vice Mayor Colonna topped the list with budgeted office spending of $416,441...which he cut to $371,431. making him #2 in budgeted office spending to Richardson. (To view the entire list, click: We Rank Councilmembers' Budgeted Office Spending In Now Ending FY 02-03 Before & After Mayoral Requested Reductions.)

    We post Councilwoman Richardson's statement verbatim below.

    [begin release text]

    In light of the current budget deficit faced by the City of Long Beach, I have for the last two years reduced by office budget beyond the Mayor's requested 3.5%. "The Sixth District budget for '02-'03 was cut by over $15,000 (4%) from the prior years allocation and the upcoming '03-'04 budget will be $17,000 (4.6%) less than '02-'03. Combined, this reflects budget reductions of over 8.4% for the last two years." As an example, in June of this year, I switched cars and my projected vehicle expenses have been reduced by 42% ($6,000).

    With each department and agency of the city being asked to find ways to reduce expenses, I believe it is incumbent upon me, as a leader in this city to do my fair share. As Chairperson for the City Council Budget Oversight Committee, I know we can collectively make a difference in how we allocate scarce resources. The information reported above reflects my willingness to make the hard decisions and choices necessary to bring our overall budget in line while minimizing the impact on the quality of service our citizens have grown to expect and deserve.

    [end release text]

    As reported first in LB media by in January 2003, Councilwoman Richardson's office budget for FY 00-01 (her first year in office) was among the city's more frugal, ranking 7 among 9 Council offices. However, her office ended up exceeding its budgeted amount ($278,008) by roughly $86,000...and in FY 01-02, Councilwoman Richardson boosted her budgeted amount by roughly 32% to $387,931...putting it among the more costly Council offices (second only to Vice Mayor Frank Colonna).

    In late February 2003, Councilwoman Richardson told her office expenses resulted from a number of factors, including the 6th district being the most diverse district in the most diverse city in America. "I believe it's our responsibility, if we are to represent this diverse district properly, to have a Council office staff representative of the community so we can communicate effectively with the community," Councilwoman Richard said at that time, adding "We have an office staff reflective of the community we serve. If someone calls speaking Spanish or Khmai, it's essential that we communicate effectively, respond properly and provide service for their needs," including printing expenses for materials in Spanish, Khmai and English.

    Councilwoman Richardson also said her district was preparing a Master Plan and her office received a budget allocation from Community Development reflecting part of that work. She noted that she had reduced her FY 02-03 6th district office budget per Mayor O'Neill's request, saying "It's important to be prudent and work to trim expenses where we can."

    In September 2002, Councilwoman Richardson joined with Councilmembers Lowenthal, Baker, and Lerch to press for deeper spending reductions than favored at that time by the Mayor.

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