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Mayor Garcia Said Long Beach Has "Fiscally Responsible Gov't"...So Why Don't LB Taxpayers Have 186 Citywide Deployable Cops LB Previously Had? Amnesia File: See What Taxpayers Had As Mayor Foster Presented His First Recommended Budget (FY07) is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(Jan. 18, 2019, 11:15 a.m.) -- Mayor Robert Garcia said in his Jan. 15, 2019 "State of the City" message that Long Beach has a "fiscally responsible government." What he didn't say is that LB taxpayers don't have 186 citywide deployable police officers that they previously had until City Councils that included him voted to erase them...and as Mayor he hasn't recommended restoring them Out of 208 erased, 22 have been restored since FY17.

Nor did the Mayor mention restoring LBFD's second downtown fire engine that LB previously had to address downtown density and high rise fire risks although Garcia and his Council "team" (his phrase) have invited increased downtown density and the highest high rises in LB history.

Amnesia File: Mayor Bob Foster's first budget entering FY 2007 included 998 budgeted sworn officers (see archival coverage below.) From this number, 76 were contracted to other agencies at the start of FY07 [later increased to over 80 during the budget year]; Mayor Foster extemporaneously rounded the contracted number to about 50; our detailed figures are from the FY07 budget documents. 998 budgeted officers minus 76 contracted officers (paid by other agencies, not routinely available for citywide deployment) = 922 budgeted citywide deployable officers. We presume the 922 figure includes an annual police academy class (varies but typically about 17 recruits per budget year) which would bring the deployable sworn number to about 900.

That's roughly 140 more than LB taxpayers have now. Today. despite the Measure A sales tax increase (June 2016, bringing City Hall over $50 million annually) and the Measure M (June 2018 utility revenue transfer/diversions ensuring City Hall continuing revenue streams), Mayor Garcia recommended, and the City Council approved (Sept. 2018) budgeting 759.75 citywide deployable officers in FY19. 208 were erased since FY09; 22 have been restored since FY17; 208 minus 22 = 186 not restored to date. To view LB's per capita police level for taxpayers compared to Los Angeles and Signal Hill, click here

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At the same time, Long Beach faces the combined results of AB 109 (Sac'to changes in incarceration policies/"realignment") and voter approval of Propositions 47 and 57. And Mayor Garcia didn't mention what we consider LB's most serious inequity: a "tale of two cities" in which a number of LB working class neighborhoods experience violent crime at disproportionately high levels nearly unheard of in other parts of the City.

In view of all this, exactly how can Long Beach city government be considered "fiscally responsibly run" if it no longer provides levels of basic core public safety services (and other services, see below) that it previously provided to its taxpayers?



Amnesia File: Mayor Foster describes proposed FY07 City budget

[ archival coverage]

(August 14, 2006) -- Using the North Branch LB library as a backdrop, LB Mayor Bob Foster on August 14 released city management's proposed FY 07 budget...which management said was structurally balanced and includes surpluses...

And acting pursuant to the City Charter, Mayor Foster offered his own budget recommendations...which rely on management's cited surpluses to (among other things, link below) restore funding for library hours and services at libraries citywide (plus after-school assistance programs and funding the FY 07 book budget).

"This is a very happy occasion. After years of having record deficits in the city, this budget as Mr. Miller and his staff will demonstrate to you, is a structurally balanced budget, and that is good news indeed," Mayor Foster said.

The Mayor added, "While we have a structurally balanced budget, we're by no means out of the woods. As you will see in this budget, there are expenses in years ahead that are significant, that are already committed to. We have to plan for those. We have to be disciplined in our spending priorities and we have to be very disciplined about being able to meet those commitments. They're very important. They're in many areas including public safety."

Management's FY 07 spending plan doesn't propose budgeting additional neighborhood police officers...and Mayor Foster offered no dissent on this, focusing instead on retention/recruitment and filling currently budgeted positions.

Mayor Foster proposes setting aside $2.1 million (from an expected $3 million [for each of the next two fiscal years] from a Sempra Energy lawsuit settlement) to create a "Public Safety Retention and Recruitment Fund" to "expeditiously address and act on recommendations related to police officer retention and recruitment review" conducted by the City Manager.

"Police Recruitment and Retention must be carefully studied in order to clearly understand the scope, root cause and service impacts of the trend of increased transfers our of our police ranks, as well as to develop appropriate and effective solutions...[T]here remains an unacceptable gap between budgeted and filled police officer positions, and the reasons for and longer-term impact of the recent increased loss of experienced police officers must be fully understood," Mayor Foster said in his written recommendations. adding:

"I am also in full support of the City Manager's recommendation to run two Police Academies in FY 07 but also believe it is imperative that the City plan and budget to continue running two academies each year for the coming few years in order to generate as many qualified police officers as possible to grow the force to meet our changing public safety needs." [emphasis in original]

During the recent Mayoral campaign, candidate Foster pledged to add at least 100 more police officers during his first four years in office...and when asked directly by Gazette newspapers' editor Harry Saltzgaver where the 100 cops were, Mayor Foster replied:

"The 100 cops don't come all at once...One of the big problems we have, we've maintained a 9% vacancy rate. We have now about, give or take, 903 sworn officers. We're budgeted for about 998 [includes about 50 officers for special details at Port, LBCC, LBUSD, Airport, paid for by those entities] so there is a large vacancy. That's one of the reasons the City Manager and Chief Batts have now instituted two [police] academies. If we can get up to our fully budgeted number, that's nearly 100 [more] officers, but we need to go beyond that, and we really do need to put more officers on the street particularly with community policing. It's going to take time to get to that...If you look at the requirements that we have, bringing police [pay] up to the median and a few other commitments out in [FY] 09, there's $20-25 million in costs that we already anticipate. We're going to have to work real hard to get additional officers, but that's still my goal, we need to put more officers on the street."...


As part of his Fan. 15, 2019 "State of the City" message, Mayor Garcia indicated that Vice Mayor Andrews would bring an item at the next Council meeting to launch a process to produce a 2030 "Strategic Plan for the future of Long Beach.


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