The City of Long Beach comptroller conducted an analysis that shows staffing levels in the city have spiraled “out of control” over the last eight years — particularly in 2011 — according to City Manager Jack Schnirman, who has called for a staff reduction of 67 employees.
Schnirman said at Tuesday’s City Council budget hearing that personnel costs presently account for 78 percent of the entire budget, or 81 percent of the general fund budget, when costs traditionally should be in the 65 to 75 percent range, according to the Long Beach Herald. Schnirman said:
“A lot of people were hired in 2011 — it’s unsustainable, unaffordable and a major reason why the city is having such severe financial difficulties.”
Schnirman displayed a chart that showed the total number of city employees increased from 1,282 in 2004 to 1,624 last year, while the city’s population has declined 6.2 percent since 2000. As examples, he highlighted the additional 27 full-time and part-time employees who were hired at the Department of Public Works in 2001, CSEA staffing levels increasing from 205 in 2005 to 241 last year, and the 207 lifeguards that were hired last year compared to 158 who were hired in 2004.
“Last year alone we saw a tremendous hiring of lifeguards,” Schnirman said. “That’s unsustainable.”
But others, including Councilman John McLaughlin, contest some of the city manager’s numbers. McLaughlin noted that the increase in lifeguards is due to Nassau County requiring more lifeguards to man each station throughout the beach season.
“It’s not an inflated number, they’re not falling over each another,” McLaughlin said. “… So that number is not right.”