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  • City Hall's Survey On City Services Indicates Public Wants Core Services Maintained; We Post Detailed Results

  • We Also Post Excerpts Of Public's Written Responses, Conveyed To Mayor & Council By City Mgr. Miller And Publicly Agendized On Nov. 26; These Weren't A Secret...But Haven't Been Detailed By Others Until Does So Here

  • Comments & Suggestions Span Wide Range, But Many Blast City Hall Perks, Pensions and Six Figure Salaries

    (January 8, 2003) -- City Hall has released the results of its "Voice Your Choice Community Survey On City Services," a project undertaken after the Mayor and Councilmembers noted -- after this year's city elections -- what city management had publicly warned about (and reported) months earlier: City Hall spending (budgeted by the Council) is anticipated to exceed City Hall's expected revenue by $40+ million (some sources say more) in the now current fiscal year (and the budget is balanced with "one time" sources.)

    City Hall received over 10,000 responses ranking 51 City Hall service areas as "essential," "important," "nice to have" or "not important" and offered written thoughts on dealing with City Hall's budget problem.

    In a detailed November 26 memo, Acting City Manager Gerald Miller updated the Council's Economic Development & Finance Committee (Councilmembers Webb, Uranga, Lerch), cc'd to the Mayor, Councilmembers, City Auditor, City Attorney and Dept. Heads, on the budget evaluation process. Mr. Miller's memo attached voluminous survey responses received from the public, meticulously transcribed, which the Council committee forwarded to the full Council, where they were publicly agendized, received and filed. [ had suspended publication during this period; the publisher's mother passed away the night before.]

    To our knowledge, until our posting of this article these responses (which are public record) have not been published in detail by others. posts below some comments we find noteworthy and/or representative in addition to detailed results of the service areas ranked by the public.

    The survey, conducted basically during November-December 2002, sought public input ranking 51 general fund programs as "essential," "important," "nice to have" or "not important." It also solicited revenue generation ideas and general ideas "for fixing the City's budget problem." City Hall made the survey available in English, Spanish [we include a Spanish response, below] and Khmer. It was distributed at every city facility, posted on City Hall's web page, included the November "WAVE" newsletter and published (at no cost) in the Press-Telegram and Long Beach Business Journal.

    City Hall says its results reflect 10,605 responses...and noted that 989 responses (about 9.3%) came from those admitting to being City of LB employees.

    Some critics called the project unscientific and skewed because it asked what services should be cut without explicitly asking what other city spending should be cut. However, the written responses solicited in the survey show the latter was clearly on the mind of many respondents. These public comments, in many cases very critical of City Hall, were transcribed in detail by City Management and provided to Councilmembers, and they were publicly agendized at the time. is pleased to report the results in detail below, first the tabulated numerical results, then written responses we found noteworthy:

    "Voice Your Choice" Final Survey Results

    Arts and Cultural Programs

    + Impt
    Nice to HaveNot Impt.Nice to Have
    + Not Impt
    Community Arts17.8% (1715)26.1% (2521)43.9%40.2% (3880)15.9% (1532)56.1%
    Historic Ranchos
    & Museums
    18.1% (1761)32.6% (3173)50.7%38.6% (3755)10.7% (1036)49.3%
    Municipal Band10.7% (1019)19.5% (1849)30.2%45.3% (4298)24.5% (2321)69.8%

    Business Services

    + Impt
    Nice to HaveNot Impt.Nice to Have
    + Not Impt
    Business Attraction
    & Retention
    38.7% (3652)37.2% (3581)76.6%16.7% (1607)6.2% (599)23.4%
    Business Watch
    (crime prevention)
    44.0% (4336)38.2% (3768)82.2%13.8% (1357)4.1% (400)17.0%
    Community Planning
    & Zoning Assistance
    28.9% (2707)44.1% (4136)73.0%20.9% (1962)6.0% (566)27.0%
  • Code Enforcement

    + Impt
    Nice to HaveNot Impt.Nice to Have
    + Not Impt
    Animal Control35.7% (3562)44.5% (4440)80.3%16.5% (1647)3.2% (319)19.7%
    Health Code enforcement52.9% (5260)35.6% (3542)88.6%9.7% (984)1.7% (173)11.4%
    Historic Preservation of
    18.4% (1798)31.3% (3050)49.7%36.1% (3523)14.1% (1377)50.3%
    Noise Code enforcement30.7% (3028)39.6% (3904)70.2%22.3% (2197)7.5% (741)29.8%
    Property/bldg. inspectors36.6% (3573)43.9% (4294)80.5%15.3% (1499)4.2% (406)19.5%

    Communication, Promotions
    & Special Events

    + Impt
    Nice to HaveNot Impt.Nice to Have
    + Not Impt
    City Hall cable TV pgms
    Channel 21
    6.7% (637)13.7% (1299)20.4%40.7% (3854)38.9% (3686)79.6%
    City Website13.7% (1299)26.0% (2461)39.8%41.9% (3963)18.3% (1725)60.2%
    City support of
    parades/special events
    10.0% (973)22.7% (2211)32.8%41.8% (4063)25.5% (2474)67.2%
    Community Info Publications
    & Advertising
    11.1% (1066)27.0% (2599)38.1%43.0% (4139)18.9% (1821)61.9%
    Tourism/Convention promotion25.8% (2495)37.6% (3635)63.5%26.4% (2551)10.1% (976)36.5%

    Facility Construction
    & Repair

    + Impt
    Nice to HaveNot Impt.Nice to Have
    + Not Impt
    Library construction
    & repair
    31.2% (3106)43.8% (4355)75.0%20.7% (2056)4.3% (429)25.0%
    Library construction
    & repair
    31.2% (3106)43.8% (4355)75.0%20.7% (2056)4.3% (429)25.0%
    Other city facilities
    construction & repair
    (Sr. Ctr., Health Bldg., City Hall)
    25.4% (2519)46.0% (4556)71.4%23.3% (2305)5.3% (528)28.6%
    Park maintenance
    & development
    31.9% (3176)46.3% (4619)78.2%19.2% (1918)2.5% (253)21.8%
    Public Safety Bldgs.30.2% (2913)44.7% (4310)75.0%19.8% (1904)5.3% (509)25.0%

    Non-Emergency Public Safety

    + Impt
    Nice to HaveNot Impt.Nice to Have
    + Not Impt
    Community Emergency
    Response Training
    30.8% (2979)37.5% (3620)68.3%25.2% (2439)6.5% (625)31.7%
    Community Safety
    Education Pgms
    25.8% (2558)39.4% (3903)65.3%28.9% (2858)5.9% (581)34.7%
    DARE Pgm.
    (Student drug awareness)
    28.4% (2817)32.7% (3235)61.1%25.8% (2552)13.1% (1300)38.9%
    Fire safety education
    at schools
    28.7% (2850)36.1% (3576)61.1%27.6% (2736)7.6% (752)38.9%
    Gang prevention56.1% (5642)30.7% (3085)86.7%10.1% (1016)3.2% (322)13.3%
    Neighborhood Police Ctrs.43.7% (4367)35.0% (3493)78.7%16.6% (1657)4.7% (467)21.3%
    Park Rangers24.6% (2408)39.1% (3829)63.7%28.3% (2768)8.0% (785)36.3%
    Police Athletic League (PAL)13.7% (1282)23.0% (2147)36.7%38.3% (3573)25.0% (2335)63.3%
    Public Safety Fairs12.0% (1144)21.2% (2029)33.2%41.8% (3999)25.0% (2386)66.8%
    School crossing guards45.6% (4574)35.1% (3520)80.7%15.9% (1590)3.4% (344)19.3%

    Library Services

    + Impt
    Nice to HaveNot Impt.Nice to Have
    + Not Impt
    Book/media lending35.0% (3416)33.4% (3256)68.4%25.5% (2489)6.0% (589)31.5%
    Books by mail pgm.
    for the homebound
    20.8% (2007)33.1% (3194)53.9%37.1% (3583)8.9% (862)46.1%
    Homework Help Pgm.23.7% (2296)32.0% (3095)55.7%34.3% (3327)10.0% (968)44.3%
    Library teen pgms.22.5% (2154)32.5% (3115)55.0%35.1% (3364)9.9% (954)45.0%
    Public computer access
    incl. internet
    24.1% (2341)28.8% (2802)52.9%33.1% (3217)13.9% (1353)47.1%
    Reading Pgms.
    for youth
    33.2% (3265)35.6% (3493)68.8%25.9% (2540)5.3% (523)31.2%


    + Impt
    Nice to HaveNot Impt.Nice to Have
    + Not Impt
    Adult sports9.8% (946)21.3% (2075)31.1%46.8% (4554)22.1% (2146)68.9%
    Child care and
    summer camps
    25.4% (2498)35.0% (3439)60.4%30.8% (3023)8.8% (867)39.6%
    Free youth sports24.4% (2362)32.7% (3167)57.1%32.2% (3130)10.7% (1043)42.9%
    Mobile recreation trailers
    & portable skateparks
    10.5% (997)17.1% (1620)27.6%41.5% (3930)30.9% (2929)72.4%
    Nature Ctr. Pgms.15.5% (1498)29.1% (2821)44.6%43.9% (4248)11.5% (1113)55.4%
    Sr. Pgms. & Services27.1% (2697)38.6% (3832)65.7%28.7% (2854)5.5% (551)34.3%
    Supervised Playgrounds
    (schools & parks)
    32.6% (3215)36.5% (3601)69.1%24.5% (2416)6.4% (634)30.9%
    Swimming pools18.3% (1791)30.8% (3020)49.1%40.8% (3990)10.1% (989)50.9%
    Teen Centers23.9% (2322)35.9% (3495)59.9%32.7% (3184)7.5% (733)40.2%

    Streets & Sidewalks

    + Impt
    Nice to HaveNot Impt.Nice to Have
    + Not Impt
    Free graffiti removal43.8% (4349)34.2% (3396)78.0%18.7% (1853)3.3% (331)22%
    Pothole/street repair61.9% (6215)31.9% (3201)93.7%5.7% (575)0.5% (54)6.3%
    Sidewalks, curb &
    gutter repair
    55.8% (5591)34.4% (3452)90.2%8.7% (869)1.1% (109)9.8%
    Street landscaping31.4% (3097)34.6% (3413)66.0%28.3% (2792)5.8% (568)34%
    Weekly street sweeping42.1% (4198)30.7% (3055)72.8%19.7% (1961)7.5% (749)27.2%


    Percent "Yes"
    Increase in Hotel Bed Tax
    (Transient Occupancy Tax)
    Increase in fees for select
    city programs (sports pgms., animal control fees
    ambulance fees
    Increase in fines for parking/traffic tickets36.9%
    Support an admissions tax on
    arts and entertainment to fund
    arts programs
    Support a bond measure for
    parks, recreation and library facilities
    Support a bond measure for
    public safety facilities
    Support a bond measure for
    streets, sidewalks and alley improvement
    I would not support
    any revenue increase

    Demographics of respondents
    Note: May total more than 10,605; people surveyed were allowed to choose more than one option to describe themselves

    I am a resident of LB8990
    I have a business in LB1116
    I am an employee of the City of LB989

    Number of Responses by Zip Code
    Final results: 10,605 responses


    Excerpts of written comments

    [ introduction: City staff meticulously transcribed comments from the public, which were attached to the Nov. 26 memo by City Mgr. Miller. The comments spanned a wide range of topics; some were lengthy, essay style suggestions; others were pithy remarks of a few words. Some criticized the Queen Mary and downtown projects; others said they'd support higher taxes; some called for firing elected officials (just months after voters returned incumbents to office); several thanked City Hall for conducting the survey. A significant number voiced anger at Council perks with the largest percentage of responses raging at city management salaries and benefits (which are ultimately not set by management, but by the elected City Council.) We smoothed some (not all) responses for grammar and added bracketed material for clarity.]

  • Start at the top with management salary and benefit cuts -- especially retirement benefits...
  • Decrease salaries for City Employees $100-200 thousand is a bit excessive
  • ...Stop spending money on things that are not important.
  • ...Cut waste
  • Cut City Council salaries. Do away with Mayoral position and go back to Council...Do away with all the travel junkets.
  • Quit hiring managers. Hire more park staff, maintenance staff, supervisors
  • Lower pay for head office
  • Fire everybody from the top down...hell, if this was Orange County, our houses would be worth three times as much...Why hasn't the city cleaned up its mess!!...
  • Why don't you cut down those humongous salaries paycheck that those city managers and department managers make. Freeze salary of all city departments.
  • Cut out the pork, employee perks that are way beyond "customary"...
  • Reduce salary and "perks" for high level administration employees...
  • Lower salaries for some city employees, especially those with salaries over $100,000 per year.
  • Create a 4 day [10 hour] work week. [significant number of these]
  • Cut all mgmt, city salaries $50K by 10-15%, $100K 20-25%
  • Cut salaries and pensions and staff levels...
  • ...Cut Mayor and Councilmembers salaries
  • Spend less money on studies and consultants. Take responsibility and make decisions...
  • Stop giving ridiculous raises and salaries and benefits to city employees and administrators! Take a big cut.
  • Eliminate "fat" from the top: cut staffing and therefore eliminate bloated salaries and pensions, freeze hiring and maybe that will result in more efficient work routines
  • Pay freeze for administrators
  • Reduce management position and middle management positions...
  • Cut from the top not the bottom
  • Look at # of consultants city has hired vs. the importance of their position to date. Many have been hired several years ago & status of work duties have changed. Are they really needed?
  • Cut back on the number of high-paid ($90K+) managers in city departments...
  • Cut dept. heads 5% or pull money out of unimportant areas
  • Hiring freeze -- wage freeze -- pension freeze...
  • Cut salaries of top management at city hall!
  • The salaries and pensions of the city employees and especially the higher ups are way out of line!
  • Long Beach will bankrupt itself for increasing costs for pensions. This should be addressed now!!! A 50% pension is a very adequate pension; coming after years of top salaries.
  • To save 50 million dollars reduce city employees by whatever percent is necessary. City employee benefits & conditions are much too liberal and should be curtailed. This is a sacred cow and nothing will be done because the ones who control these areas are the biggest beneficiaries.
  • Management reduction. The city administration is too top heavy. This is very costly...
  • Cut every city hall office by 10% (way overstaffed). Cut down on city transportation and driving. Cut travel way down.
  • Lower managerial salaries, Board, city manager, etc.
  • Do what the private sector does. Cut staff! Reduce salaries...
  • Rescind the latest pension increase for city employees. Cut back on frivolous events. Recognize our budget is kaput and tighten belts wherever possible. I am glad to see this survey. Hoorah for Long Beach. We love it!
  • 1 Place caps on salaries of staff & elected (officials at city hall appointed). 2. Reduce expenditures on studies done by consultants outside city hall...Thanks for asking our opinion. Do it again please.
  • Roll back all upper city employees wages!...that are above the normal wages that got big raises months ago...
  • Restructure high paying officials...Too many chiefs, not enough Indians...
  • I would stop giving all of these city officials large raises.
  • Keep more work in house. Why pay subcontractors for so much work? The city can handle the work load.
  • Reduce management salaries and retirement benefits; hiring freeze
  • To lower the high salary of city officials especially who are receiving income of $80,000 and over
  • Do away with employees 1. cars 2. phones 3. big offices...Most important, City Council members should lead -- not blame everyone if they do nothing.
  • No administrative perks -- cars and driving allowances, health insurance extras or raises...use existing staff -- not outside consultants...stop funding businesses etc. esp. downtown
  • Cut the pay of the Mayor on down including the council members and do not let any city employee have a city car. Why should the citizens of Long Beach pay for a car for a city employee, let them take the bus and pay for the bus like the rest of us or pay for a car, insurance, gas like the rest of us.
  • Reduce the city council budgets for staff and office. This does not appear as an option on the form, and it should be an option.
  • Give the people back their $40,000,000.
  • Lower salaries & pensions of higher tier city employees
  • Look closely at city salaries, perks and the Councilmembers' slush funds...
  • Remove cars and any car allowance for city council;...Limit budget and staffing of City Council to a set amount, the same budget amount for all of them...
  • Take back salary increases and pensions, reduce city employees...
  • I'm willing to pay a little more in taxes if I know we are helping children, improve life in the city...
  • Fire the Mayor.
  • Fire Auditor [elected] and City treasurer for failing to see problems. City top heavy high paying positions. RECALL new pension plan (2.7%)
  • The survey is a good idea. I just hope it truly is taken into consideration in considering budget deficit solutions.
  • Please review and revise the city employee salaries and benefit packages. The complete rip-off of the inexcusable!...Why should the people who work FOR this city...have higher salaries and fantastic pensions than the working tax-paying residents?...
  • Reduce the enormous salaries of the city supervisors.
  • Freeze on raise increases for those people who make more than $100,000 a year or ask them to volunteer to delay a raise for six months to a year.
  • Cap all your outrageous salaries to $100,000 max a year...
  • Bajen los sueldos de los altos funcionarios [lower the salaries of high officials]...
  • Pray -- the Lord always can help and he's always there and on time.
  • If you call me, I will let you know what you need to do $10,000,000,000.00 easy and fast.

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