Council Tweaks And OK's FY21 Budget, Defunds Nearly 50 Sworn Police Officers (On Top Of 180+ Defunded 2009-2015 Not Restored), Councilmembers Let Themselves To Join Voluntary 10% Salary Reducing Furlough But Quietly Let Themselves Increase Their Pensions With Adopted Salary Increases
|(Sept. 9, 2020, 6:40 p.m.) -- At its Sept. 8 meeting, the Long Beach City Council voted
With the Council approved FY21 budget now defunds just under 50 sworn officers (by our unofficial reckoning the number is 48), replacing them with roughly 30 non-sworn positions and allocating sums saved to other Council-desired spending items including racial reconciliation-related items.
The Council tweaked management's proposed budget to restore one police officer in the K-9 unit, two detectives in the Violent Sexual Predator unit, expand coverage and services typically done by Park Rangers to include Bixby Park and MacArthur Park..restore a Marine Safety officer and fund seasonal lifeguard staffing (which had been slated for a 10% decrease in funding.)
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A full list of the Council's tweaks can be viewed here.
But the Council tweaks didn't touch the essence of the FY21 police defunding -- by our unofficial reckoning now 48 sworn positions erased in FY21 on top of 2009-2015 defundings that erased roughly 20% of LBPD's sworn officer level. Our math: city management's proposed FY21 budget included a proposed reduction of 54 sworn positions, but three of those positrons were "contracted" positions. They're paid for by various entities (not by City's Council-allocated General Fund) that request -- and pay the City to provide -- LBPD officers to handle policing at their venues: LB's Port, LB Airport, LBUSD, LBCC, Metro, LBTransit, Carmelitos Housing. These budgeted positions aren't the result of Council budget choices for General Fund allocations and the contracted officers aren't available to handle citywide policing needs during their contracted shifts. 54 - 3 = 51 management proposed citywide deployable officers. On Sept. 8, Council tweaks restored one police officer in the K-9 unit and two detectives in the Violent Sexual Predator unit. 51 - 3 = 48 citywide deployable sworn officers eliminated in the Council approved FY21 budget.,
The 48 defunded officers are in addition to 180+ officers defunded in budgets from 2009-=2015 that the Council hasn't restored despite 2016 LB voter approval of Measure A sales tax increase.
Entering FY08, the City budgeted nearly 1,000 budget sworn officers for taxpayers available for citywide (not contracted) deployment. By our unofficial reckoning, the Council's Sept. 8, 2020 voted action will leave LB taxpayers with 708.75 budgeted sworn deployable officers. .
Management's proposed police staffing level isn't visible in City FY21 budget documents. It's among several figures not visible in the City FY21 budget documents, including salaries (and salary increases) for citywide electeds and city staff department heads. Details in LBREPORT.com coverage here.
The Council declined to make deeper police cuts sought by Black Lives Matter Long Beach and other groups including LB Forward. Councilmembers Zendejas and Pearce gave groups supporting a "Peoples Budget" an individual agenda item to present their advocacy positions which include calling for a 20% reduction in LBPD funding. (The groups'; PPT is visble here) The groups support using the roughly $50 million from their proposed 20% reduction to [PPT text] "Reinvest in Black Lives and Communities of Color: 1. Reimagine Community Safety without Police Terror; 2. Build Affordable and Supportive Housing; 3. Provide a Right to Counsel for All Renters ($4.4 million); 4. Establish a Rental Housing Division within Development; Services ($700,000)."
Councilmembers Zendejas and Pearce stopped short of making a motion to support the groups' advocated deeper cuts. Other Councilmembwers remained mum. A motion to receive and file (take no action) failed for lack of a second..
Responding to LBREPORT.com's story indicating that the City's FY21 budget documents don't list the FY21 salaries of citywide elected officials and non-elected department heads, City Auditor Lauda Doud said she supports a City Att'y agendized option letting citywide electeds participate in reductions via furloughs amounting cutting their salaries by 10%. (Auditor Doud's nearly $7,000 FY21 salary increase was among those not visible in city management released budget documents.)
In an email (Sept. 8) to LBREPORT.com, Auditor Doud’s office noted her "budgeted FY21 salary is in line with the City’s Salary Resolution for all elected City officials which was applied to each City elected official this fiscal year. And as noted earlier, City Auditor Doud is planning to voluntarily participate in the furlough program in line with the City Attorney’s recommendation in the Council item this evening and consistent with other City employees."
The Auditor's office added: "The budgeted salary information is per the City’s Salary Resolution Section 16 which covers the salaries of all elected City officials and is based on the change in the Consumer Price Index.".
Although the City Attorney agedendized item will save taxpayers sums in the short term for Councilmembers who choose to take it, it also lets incumbents "spike" (increase) their future pensions by approving the adopted salary increase on which their future pension benefits will be calculated.
To our knowledge, any Councilmember(s) could have made a motion on Sept. 8 to freeze their salaries at FY20 levels (avoiding the pension spike and saving sums.) None did.
A motion by Councilwoman Stacy Mungo to reduce some capital investments in new fleet vehicles in FY21 and use sums saved to address the "worst streets and alleys" (with 80% going to streets, 20% to alleys) received Council approval 9-0.
But a motion by Mungo to allow Councilmembers to specify that sums saved if they participate in a city staff furlough program should go either to City's General Fund or to one of two privately run non-profits: the LB Public Library Foundation or Partners of Parks) sparked debate and ultimately failed passage by a single vote.
Councilman Rex Richardson opposed the Mungo proposal, arguing that sums saved should go to the General Fund but not also to Council favored non-profits. Mungo's motion failed passage 4-5...with Councilman Al Austin voting "no" and stating: "I'm confused so I'm a Nay."
Richardson's substitute motion (to allocate Councilmembers' saved sums to the General fund) carried 7-2 (Mungo and Suopernaw dissenting.)
On another item, following lengthy discussion, the Council. voted 9-0 to approve a proposal by Vice Mayor Dee Andrews, tweaked by the Council, to let cannabis businesses remain open for two additional hours and sought a management report on the effects of possibly reducing taxes on their operations.
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