News Details
You need to be told the truth
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  From Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske
5th District, City of Long Beach, CA


It's time to tell the voters the truth about why Long Beach has a surplus this coming budget year..

Don't want to burst the bubble and take the magic away. But some elected officials are sending self congratulatory emails and Facebook messages about how we all down at City Hall worked so hard to have a budget surplus this coming year.
 
What is not getting said is that the real reason we are experiencing a surplus in 2014 is because we received a $26 million dollar jump in property taxes because they had been swept away and sent to redevelopment all these years.
 

Take a look at when Long Beach started to have economic problems and you will see they weren't caused by public employee pensions.

 

Because if they were the cause, when the City Council negotiated pension reform, the City would have realized a surplus. Right? Wrong. And we didn't.

 

When the City put 42% of the entire city into redevelopment it swept that tax increment into what was largely a debt servicing agency. Don't believe it? Go on line as I have and read all the redevelopment reports that the City of Long Beach filed with the State Controller John Chiang. 

 

98% of the funds/taxes collected by Long Beach redevelopment went into Administrative costs, salaries and debt services. By its own reporting, the City created few jobs because of redevelopment. 

 

Gradually as property appreciated more and more money went into redevelopment instead of the general fund. That meant all of those property taxes did not go into the general fund to be used across the entire city.

 

Some on the City council railed against the Governor and State Legislature for abolishing redevelopment and redirecting property taxes to government and not local development. 

 

Not I. As the representative of an area that has only a sliver of redevelopment area -- it surrounds Schroeder Army Hall -- the east side had to rely upon general fund moneys only for city services and improvements. 

 

Redevelopment areas in the rest of the city received both redevelopment funds and general funds. Most significantly, tax increment was not available for the entire city.

 

Come on. Let's be open and transparent. Before we all go slapping each other on the back and saying what a great job we did creating the surplus, we need to admit that had redevelopment not been abolished last year and property taxes not returned, we would be singing a different tune and there would be no surplus. 

 

Residents deserve our honesty so they can weigh in when we make decisions that impact them. They had no say when Long Beach diverted property taxes into redevelopment and it is time we told them what problems that created with our budget.

 

Knowing that, we should pause and say, never, never again should a council get involved in a scheme that takes away property taxes from the general fund -- especially without the permission of the taxpayers.

 

Let me know what you think about this issue by email: district5@longbeach.gov.

 

Sincerely,

 

Gerrie