Reading Between the Lines: How This Year's Proposed Budgets Will Impact Long Beach Beautification

How exactly does spending in the fiscal year impact Long Beach beautification? A perusal of the 2012/2013 proposed city budget brought up a few questions...

On a rainy Sunday, just for “fun,” I decided to flip through the 202-page proposed budget for the fiscal year 2012/2013 for the City of Long Beach. Mostly I wanted to find out the available funds for the stepped up sanitation proposals WEBA has been pushing and for the City’s planting protocol.

Now my husband is a CPA but my eyes glaze over when there’s more than 5 numbers on a page. There were a few things that caught my eye though; and it sheds some light on where the city, like the rest of us, is trying to stretch their limited resources.

Expenditure Detail:

Account2010/2011 Actual Cost2012/2013 Recommended Budget Shade Trees & Beautification $39,083 $0 Beach Maintenance/ Supplies & Materials $58,786 $55,000 Street Maintenance/ Supplies & Materials $37,750 $37,000 Maintenance Supplies $4,709 $7,000 Street Paving $0 $0 Street & Sidewalk Reconstruction $0 $0


Shade Trees and Beautification. Well, I didn’t need my husband to spell out this one. The budget ax felled the shade trees. .  

The recommended budget? 


Beach Maintenance: The Beach Maintenance Deptartment is responsible for the beach, boardwalk, comfort stations, beach access ramps and outside facilities such as MLK, Senior Center and West End Community Center. It is also responsible for planting “seasonally [sic] perennials, annuals, and shade trees for all the medians, malls, street ends and beach entrances.”  

Well, we already know the story with the shade trees. The numbers for the Supplies and Materials for Beach Maintenance are generally comparable between last year and 2012, but be that as it may, does the number seem low to anyone else but me?

The flowers, mulch etc. plus all the other materials needed to maintain the outside areas of the entire city (other than the boardwalk) are only 3% of the Beach Maintenance budget! I would have to guess that the flower planting portion is less than half of that $55,000 number.  Sad.

Street Maintenance: Ok, here’s the weird one: The Street Maintenance Dept. is responsible for maintaining all of the City of Long Beach streets. They repair potholes, lay asphalt, and do masonry repairs as needed. They also restore the street after a sewer connection has been installed from house to street.  

The total budget for this department is a little over $2M. While the Supplies and Materials/Street Maintenance line items seem to have consistent responsibly reactive budgeting, the Street Paving and Street and Sidewalk Reconstruction budgets feature big donuts: zeroes all the way across the page.

Nothing spent since at least 2010 and nothing budgeted through 2013. Sounds like patching will continue as the answer to our pothole problems.

But here comes the good news.....

(Drum roll please....)

$30,000 in Sanitation Penalties.*

*This is on the revenue side.

Sounds like Code Enforcement is on the way!!

Yes, there are one or two items to either make me scratch my head or furrow my brow. But I’m going to focus on the one that make the corners of my mouth turn up. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, but I’m really, really optimistic that we will see a much cleaner Long Beach this summer.

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Eddie May 01, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Overtime expenditures may be contractual or they may be mismanagement. Depends on the contracts' manning agreements. If a police position can go unfilled in the event of an absence, why shouldn't it? Unless the contract requires all positions to be filled, a wise management would carefully evaluate covering the job at overtime. Since the "inmates run the asylum," this is a bitter pill, but one that must be swallowed. Senior men live for overtime -- they depend on it. But unless management represents the taxpayer, the place becomes just one big feeding tough.
Grumpy 113 May 02, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Do you believe this budget is a prudent budget? The people who put it together have no experience either running government or preparing a budget. Ask employees in city hall the budget is a mess. There are expenses that don't make sense. We brought these people in to do the right thing and since day one we haven't aren't anything but bad press. What happened to th budget committee? I thought residents have a say they wer going to publish comments and hold meetings. Enough already. How about the police and fire depts? Why is it always the low paying csea worker? let's layoff in those depts first they account for half the budget.
Fred Barnes May 02, 2012 at 01:13 PM
I would not believe 50% of what you hear from employees in City Hall, who have a vested interest here. This new council and manager are in same position as the last on the budget. They are using a form which already has every department and spending item on it, just like last year and the year before and the year before. There are not many "low paying csea workers", 40% of the overall workers were paid more than $70,000 in salary last year. But I am in agreement that there are too many police and they are paid way too much. Several police officers pulled in close to $200,000 last year in salary. One $124,000 a year officer took home $202,000. That the "low paying csea" worker may feel the hammer will not be the choice of the city management, that will be the choice of unions if they protect the overpaid, underworked higher-ups.
Grumpy 113 May 02, 2012 at 03:57 PM
I though the new regime had bright new ideas they were going to produce a new budget, new ideas to fix things. The budget has almost identical numbers as last year and the year before except for 10 lines I mean really what did they do? As for csea employees the average salary is 50k. The police and fire average salary is 145k so where is the equality?
Fred Barnes May 02, 2012 at 05:21 PM
The CSEA should join the City in pressing the Police (and to a lesser degree the Fire Dept) to help the City and stop bleeding it dry.


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