Will Your Councilmember Vote To Spend Over $750,000 On These Budget Items Proposed By City Mgr, Recommended by Mayor?
|(August 10, 2019, 11:05 a.m.) -- LBREPORT.com reports below the following items contained in the City of LB's Management proposed/Mayor Garcia recommended FY2020 budget. LB Councilmembers by a majority vote can choose to approve them, or spend the money on other items or save/conserve the sums.
LBREPORT.com quotes the items below as published in City Hall's FY2020 proposed budget document, alongside notes by us (marked as such.) We explain in detail from where the money came and how the Council could use the revenue to provide other items including police, fire, parks (including animal care services) with a few additional Council votes to amend a LB ordinance that the Council could do at any time.
LBREPORT.com also notes that the Mayor and Councilmember(s) could avoid spending taxpayer funds for any or all of these items by using sums they've collected from contributors to their "officeholder accounts" (that some Councilmembers now use for political purposes including electing others or re-electing each other, having changed LB law in 2017 to enable themselves to do so.)
It is the public's right to know this public information and to voice their views, pro or con, on whether they want their elected Councilmembers to approve spending LB tax dollars in these ways. We invite our readers to share the information in this article on social networks and to report to us (please include screen saves or emailed correspondence) if they're blocked from doing so and if so by whom and on what stated grounds.
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The Management/Mayor proposed FY 2020 budget proposes to fund the spending items above using LB public money received mainly from hotel room taxes ("transient occupancy tax" or TOT) as well as new taxes recently imposed by the Council on Short Term Rentals. City management allocates this public money to what it calls a "Special Advertising and Promotion Fund." A few years ago, the Council by voted action directed those funds (by an ordinance amending LB Municipal Code section 3.64.100) to specify that the "Special Advertising and Promotion Fund" may only be spent for purposes that include "advertising, promotional, and public relations projects calling attention to the City, its natural advantages, resources, enterprises, attractions, climate, and facilities."
However nothing restricts or prevents the Council from amending LB's Muni Code to let the Council use all or part of the Special Advertising & Promotion Fund" for general fund taxpayer serving purposes including police, fire, streets, sidewalks or other public needs. Doing so would simply require three Council votes: one to agendize Council support for the change, then two Council enactment votes for the amendment. The Council routinely amends LB ordinances on multiple other matters.
In addition to the three quarters of a million dollars in proposed FY20 spending items listed above, LB officials have previously used the "Special Advertising and Promotions Fund" for problematic spending items. On Dec. 18, 2018, the Council voted 7-0 (motion by Mungo) to spend $1 million from the "Special Advertising and Promotions Fund" to add a $1 million dollar "media wall" to their new City Hall (details reported by LBREPORT.com here.)
The proposed FY2020 budget describes the "Special Advertising and Promotions Fund" as "used for advertising, promotional and public relations projects and special events calling positive attention to the City, including support for the Municipal Band. The single largest revenue for the Special Advertising and Promotion Fund is the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). TOT is a 12 percent total tax imposed on all hotel rooms in the City, 6 percent of which is earmarked for the Special Advertising and Promotion Fund."
The proposed FY2020 budget indicates that the Special Advertising and Promotions Fund is expected to collect over $11 million in FY2020. "Reflecting Long Beach's position as a tourist, convention and filming destination, TOT revenue has increased from pre-recession levels and is expected to remain strong as the economy prospers."
A Council amendment could allow the Council to use all or part of that $11 million annually for police, fire libraries, street and other taxpayer serving purposes. Some special interests might oppose this but it's ultimately a Council majority's decision.
With or without the amendment, the Council will vote in the first half of September whether to spend three-quarters of a million dollars in LB public money from the Special Advertising and Promotions Fund for the above listed items or decline to do so.
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