City Mgm't Suggests Council Could "Temporarily" Restore Fire Engine 17 (Argonne Ave.) That Supernaw Seeks And Provide Six Bike Officers That Mayor Garcia Touted Last Year But Weren't Delivered By Using "One Time Funds"; Action Would Enable Four Council Incumbents To Get Thru 2020 Re-Elections With No Budget Commitment To Continue Providing Those Items For Taxpayers Thereafter
|(August 21, 2019, 6:40 p.m.) -- In a memo recently sent to LB City Councilmembers and the Mayor, city management has suggested that the Council could temporarily restore -- without a continuing commitment to taxpayers -- Fire Engine 17 (Argonne Ave. NE of Traffic Circle) unsuccessfully sought for several years by Councilman Daryl Supernaw and provide six "bicycle response" police officers sought by Mayor Garcia one year ago -- neither of which were provided for LB taxpayers during FY19 -- by tapping "one time funds" in FY20 and FY21.
In a memo dated August 19, Director of Financial Management John Gross acknowledged that management's proposed FY20 budget doesn't include structural (continuing) funding for Engine 17 or the six "bicycle response" officers but offers the option of restoring Engine 17 "on a temporary basis" and providing sums for police and other one-time uses by tapping "one time funds."
City of Long Beach has a stated policy [consistent with prudent financial conduct] not to use "one time funds" for ongoing continuing spending items. In his Jan 2019 "State of the City" message, Mayor Garcia said Long Beach has a "fiscally responsible government." In July 2019, Mayor Garcia supported a Council vote (without dissent) to declare a "fiscal emergency" enabling a March 2020 special citywide election to make the 2016 "temporary" Measure A Gen'l Fund ("blank check") sales tax increase a permanent tax.
If the Council were to approve tapping "one time" funds to temporarily fund Engine 17 and six officers or other police uses, it would effectively enable four Council incumbents (Pearce, Supernaw, Andrews and Austin) to get through their upcoming 2020 re-election cycle without committing to continue to provide either item after FY21.
LB's current Council has restored 22 citywide deployable budget officers to date out of 208 such officers erased since 2009; the net effect has left LB without 186 citywide deployable officers (including LBPD's former field anti-gang unit) that the City provided to its taxpayers to before Measure A.
[Scroll down for further.]
Under "proportional budget reductions" implemented under immediate-past Mayor Foster by a Council that included then-Councilman Garcia, LBFD Fire Station 17 no longer has Engine 17 available to put out fires. On January 31, 2014 (a little over a year before Councilman Daryl Supernaw was elected), a multi-unit residence across the street from Station 17 was basically destroyed by fire because Engine 17 wasn't available to quickly douse the flames. (Another engine had to travel from further away while the fire doubled in size every minute.)
One may speculate on what that minute, or minutes, may have meant on this fire; below is what LBREPORT.com saw on scene on Saturday, Feb. 1.
Station 17 had a Fire Engine on scene from its opening on April 21, 1951 until January 2, 2013, more than 61 years.
Management's Aug. 9, 2019 memo offers the text of a motion that a Councilmember could make in early September to approve the "temporary" restoration of Engine 17 using "one time" funds.
Motion to include Engine 17 operations using a reserve fire engine into the FY20 budget using one-time Measure A funds, and to reserve $2,950,000 in one-time Measure A funds as part of the out-year plan to fund Engine 17 in FY21...
Management's memo also offers text of a similar motion that could allocate a little over $1 million in FY20 "to police or other public safety one-time" uses.
The management proposal comes after the Council voted in July 2019 to put a measure on a special March 2020 citywide election ballot that would turn LB's 2016 Measure A "temporary" General Fund ("blank check") sales tax increase into a permanent sales tax.
Management's Aug. 19 memo recommends rejecting a federal (FEMA "SAFER" ["Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response"] grant for firefighter services) -- for which the City has already applied but FEMA hasn't yet awarded. Management says accepting the award "may not be recommended as it may make adjusting to the City's FY21 and FY22 projected budget shortfall more difficult." [LBREPORT.com interprets this as reflecting concern that accepting the federal grant would require the City to commit to continue funding Engine 17 for a period of years after the federal grant expires.]
Instead, management's memo proposes the following regarding Engine 17: "If the City Council wanted to extend the time beyond two years, alternatives could include utilizing a less expensive resource or more non-conventional staffing such as peak load staffing," the memo says, adding that "additional study would be required to evaluate these models."
Councilman Supernaw, the son of a LBFD firefighter who earned awards for his on-duty heroism) has tried unsuccessfully to date to persuade Mayor Garcia to recommend or the Council to approve budgeting sums to restore Engine 17 (which handles calls in multiple east and central LB Council districts.) Councilman Supernaw was among Councilmembers who voted without dissent to put the Measure A General Fund ("blank check") sales tax increase on the June 2016 ballot, and in July 2019 he was again among Councilmembers who voted without dissent to put a measure on a special citywide March 2020 ballot that would make Measure A (which was supposed to be temporary") a permanent "blank check" revenue source (now bringing City Hall roughly $60 million annually.)
On July 31 2018, Councilman Supernaw attended a press event at which Mayor Garcia unveiled management's FY19 budget that didn't include restoring Engine 17 but recommended that the City Manager "to identify new revenue" to restore Fire Engine 17 (Argonne Ave.) plus six LBPD bike patrol officers. In short written budget recommendations, Mayor Garcia said he was "confident we can make these restorations in 2019." When asked to explain this during press Q & A, Mayor Garcia likened it to what occurred in FY17 [when the Council pressed management to identify funds at mid-budget-year, after Nov. 2016 elections brought additional revenue, to restore Paramedic Rescue 12 in NLB and add nine police officers beyond eight initially budgeted.] To hear Mayor Garcia's explanation, see VIDEO clip below:
Council Supernaw attended the July 31, 2018 press event and when asked for a quick comment after Mayor Garcia's recommended restoration of Engine 17, Supernaw indicated he was pleased...but that changed a few months later.
At a Feb. 26, 2019 meeting of LB's Public Safety Committee (Price, Supernaw, Austin), an LBFD management rep publicly revealed that Engine 17 wasn't back in service and said the department was prepared to restore Engine 17 "as soon as it's structurally funded" (with a revenue source for ongoing funding year after year.) That hit like cold water on a hot pan.
Within days on
The lack of FY20 proposed budget funding to restore Engine 17 became publicly visible on July 31 when management unveiled its proposed FY20 budget and Mayor Garcia didn't recommend Council restoration of Engine 17. The absence of the six "bicycle response" team Mayor Garcia had touted a year earlier became known at an August 13 Council budget hearing when 2nd district Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce asked LBPD Chief Robert Luna about the status of the bicycle officers. Chief Luna candidly acknowledged that the six bicycle response officers hadn't materialized as planned and both parties pivoted to discuss LBPD's use of other bike officers in/around Bixby Park.
Councilman Supernaw didn't publicly raise the issue of restoring Engine 17 at the August 13 Council meeting.
A majority of Councilmembers have the power to restore continuing (structural) funding for Engine 17 and restore additional police officers (subject to a Mayoral veto that six Councilmembers can override) when the proposed FY20 budget comes to Council for adoption votes shortly after Labor Day.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Recommend LBREPORT.com to your Facebook friends:
Follow LBReport.com with:
Contact us: mail@LBReport.com
Hardwood Floor Specialists
Call (562) 422-2800 or (714) 836-7050