Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Reading Between the Lines....

Just for “fun” on a rainy Sunday 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
(click to enlarge)
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 Dept. 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.