(June 25, 2019, 12:30 p.m.) -- City management has agendized an item for the July 2 Council agenda citing reasons it says justify conducting a special citywide March 2020 election on a ballot measure to let City Hall continue to impose the June 2016 "temporary" Measure A General Fund ("blank check") sales tax increase basically indefinitely.
To view city management's agendizing memo in full click here.
On July 2, the Council will hear management's presentation and vote on whether to direct the City Attorney to prepare materials for subsequent Council approval that would place what amounts to a "Measure A forever tax" on a March 2020 ballot.
As presented to LB voters in June 2016 by Mayor Garcia and the entire City Council, Measure A explicitly stated that its 1% tax increase would drop to 0.5% by 2023 end entirely in 2027. The now-proposed March 2020 ballot measure would renege on those terms, authorizing City Hall to continue to impose the Measure A sales tax increase without reduction basically as long as it wishes.
LB voters approved Measure A after a six figure campaign funded using sums solicited by a political committee run by Mayor Garcia. In June 2018, Garcia renamed the committee to solicit sums and run a campaign to enact the City Hall-sought Measure M utility revenue transfer/rate increase backfill. He then renamed the committee to run a campaign for four Charter Amendments, including Measure BBB that has now allowed Council incumbents Andrews and Austin to seek third terms without previous write-in requirements.
Putting a "Measure A forever tax" on the March 2020 ballot would coincide with Council elections in Council districts 2 (Pearce), 4 (Supernaw), 6 (Andrews) and 8 (Austin.)
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Among management's offered justifications for continuing Measure A indefinitely is the emerging Community Hospital transaction. In March 2019, the Council approved in principle negotiating a deal (not yet finalized) that will commit LB taxpayers to spend $25 million over 15 years. LB taxpayers would pay half the cost of seismic improvements to enable a privately owned LLC to run for its profit a smaller version of Community Hospital on city-owned land. City management's memo acknowledges that this sum is "currently unfunded" (meaning the City has no currently identified way to pay for it without either using Measure A funds or reducing taxpayer services.)
Some portions of management's memo are arguably more tendentious than informational:
If the Council unanimously declares a "fiscal emergency" (if/when it actually puts the measure on the ballot in a subsequent Council meeting), it would allow the "Measure A tax forever" measure to appear on a March 2020 citywide ballot. (Without the declaration of a "fiscal emergency," it could only appear on the November 2020 ballot.)
As a General Fund ("blank check") measure, a "Measure A forever tax" could be enacted with a 50%+1 vote margin.
In a parallel developing story, LBREPORT.com reported (first again) some person(s) have filed paperwork creating a "Lift Up Long Beach Families -- Rex Richardson Ballot Measure Committee" that has scheduled a downtown fundraiser this initial supporters. Based on Councilman Richardson's record, and the group's initially identified supporters, speculation is that such a measure may focus on homeless related/affordable (below market/subsidized) housing. LBREPORT.com coverage here.
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