The General Fund

Each year, the Mayor, City Council, and City Manager work together to prepare a City budget, which identifies how the City's revenues should be spent. The budget for Fiscal Year 2013 (FY 13), which begins on October 1, 2012, is currently being developed.

Of particular importance to the City's budget is the General Fund, which is the only fund that can be used with no restrictions. It supports most traditional city services, such as police, fire, parks and recreation, and libraries. The other City funds, which represent 85% of the City's budget, are restricted by law, regulations, or accounting rules for special purposes.

For every year over the last decade, General Fund revenues have not been sufficient to continue the service levels from the preceding year. This is due in large part to the general economy, which affects tax revenues, and by increasing costs, including employee costs. Unlike the federal government, the City of Long Beach must adopt a balanced budget every year. This means that solutions must be found to bridge the gap between revenues and expenditures.
Since FY 04, the city reduced costs or increased revenue in the General Fund by more than $200 million. In an effort to keep the City solvent, we have:
  • Eliminated more than 856 positions, 25% of General Fund workforce 
  • Reduced management staff by 28% 
  • Removed hundreds of vehicles from the City's fleet 
  • Asked employees to contribute more to health and retirement costs 
  • Consolidated bureaus and divisions to streamline the organization 
  • Increased cost recovery for services through fees and charges 
  • Restructured various City operations to save money including Code Enforcement, Inspection Services, and Workers' Compensation 
  • Reduced service levels throughout the organization 
The Current Situation

The City is again faced with a General Fund deficit of $17.2 million for FY 13. But, the problem does not stop there, with $17.3 million more expected over the next two years. Simply put, the City can no longer provide the levels of service its residents have come to expect, and some very difficult decisions must be made.

Long Beach currently follows a philosophy of "proportionate share" to maintain public safety services (and all services) at their current priority levels. The proportionate share approach assigns deficit reduction targets to departments to curtail their growth, primarily from negotiated salary increases and pension cost increases. To learn more about proportionate share, please click here.


The Long Beach Budget Challenge is an interactive simulation that lets you balance the City's budget. You decide how much to spend for public works, libraries, parks and recreation, public safety, and other City services - and how to pay for them.

The Budget Challenge will give you a general perspective of the budget process and its difficulties, as well as help you understand how your preferences impact other service areas. The choices provided are illustrative and broadly reflect the types of services that may be impacted in the effort to balance the FY 13 Budget. You will be able to see how your choices compare to those of other participants. The cumulative results of the Budget Challenge will be reviewed as part of the budget development process. However, the results should not be considered to be representative of the public at large since the Budget Challenge is not a formal survey.

Start the Budget Challenge now

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