By The Numbers: How Council's Budget Vote Shrank LBPD's Gang Enforcement Unit By Half
|(Oct. 1, 2012) -- LBReport.com has learned that as a result of the City Council's Sept. 4 budget votes, the City of Long Beach today (Oct. 1) is entering FY13 with only half the number of budgeted gang enforcement officers that it provided for taxpayers in just-ended FY12.
Although some Councilmembers portrayed their budget vote as "restoring" gang enforcement officers that were initially proposed to be cut, LBReport.com has learned that out of LB's previously budgeted 22 gang enforcement officers, the Council's Sept. 4 budget action will only fund 10 officers + 1 Sergeant. The remaining 10 other officers + one Sergeant who had been handling gang matters but will now be reassigned to other Department positions. The remainder of the sum added by the Council to LBPD's budget will be used to cover overtime (with a smaller amount than what the Council budgeted last year) and retain some Police Service Specialist (civilian) staff.
The chain of events began on Aug. 1 when the Mayor Bob Foster/City Manager Pat West recommended budget reductions that included reducing LBPD's budget by an amount that PD management said would result in removing 22 sworn officers from gang enforcement duties. This met with some public opposition at community budget meetings.
On the afternoon of September 4, Budget Oversight Committee chair Gary DeLong and Committee member Suja Lowenthal proposed adding roughly $1.35 million to the budgeted sum proposed by the Mayor/Manager. However a few hours later at the evening meeting of the full Council, Councilman Patrick O'Donnell made a motion to increase by $1 million the sum to be added to the Mayor/Manager budget.
That produced a total of roughly $2.35 million added to the Mayor/Manager proposed level for gang enforcement, police overtime (a
The Council vote came after a Council majority first refused on a 3-5 vote (Yes: Austin, Neal, Schipske; No: Garcia, Lowenthal, DeLong, O'Donnell, Johnson) to put off action on the General Fund budget until Sept. 11.
City budget documents indicate that LBPD police overtime was $9.987 million in FY 11 (actual) and $9.87 million in FY 12 (estimated). [Source: LBPD FY13 budget section, "Financial Summary by Category."] A memo dated Sept. 4 and presented to the Budget Oversight Committee by Financial Management Director John Gross indicated that fully funding LBPD's Gang Enforcement Unit (21 positions at $133,000 (avg.) per officer) would require $3.1 million [Source: attachment A, Menu of Potential Restorations, p. 3]
Vice Mayor Robert Garcia (who chairs the Council's Public Safety Committee but held no hearings on the public safety impacts of the Mayor's recommended FY13 budget) spotted this shortfall in O'Donnell's motion and raised the issue on the Council floor, speculating that of the total $2.3 million that O'Donnell's motion was proposing to add, $2 million would likely go to overtime. [The $2 million sum cited by Garcia accurately reflected the sum cited in Financial Mgm't Dir. Gross' Sept. 4 memo to the Council.][Comment: Garcia's concern and his question were on-target.]
Councilman O'Donnell replied by contending that Vice Mayor Garcia's statement "wasn't true" on grounds it wasn't yet known how much would be allocated for overtime or to the gang unit because his motion left that allocation to the Chief's discretion. Councilman O'Donnell didn't explain (and no other Councilmembers purused) how the Chief could fully fund
Councilman DeLong said the budget includes additional "salary savings" but didn't specify what items he was describing. [Among the salary saving items in the Aug. 1 Mayor/Manager budget was cutting LBPD's gang unit, but DeLong didn't explicitly say this.]
Mayor Foster then added that the Chief had said he would remain "within his budget" [that the Mayor presented on Aug. 1] but didn't mention that this included cutting 22 members of LBPD's gang unit.
Vice Mayor Garcia asked if the Budget Oversight Committee had discussed this matter at its meeting earlier, Councilman DeLong replied "over a period of time."
To hear the O'Donnell/Garcia/DeLong/Mayoral exchange, click here.
The Council then voted 8-0 (Andrews absent) to approve the O'Donnell motion amending the Mayor/Manager proposed budget. A few minutes later, the Council voted 6-2 (Austin and Neal dissenting, Andrews absent) to approve the full General Fund budget as amended.
The FY13 General Fund budget as adopted by the Council on Sept. 4 (on police and other items) is now in effect...and will remain so unless or until a Council majority chooses to change it.
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