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Long Beach Looking Over $1.32-Billion Spending Plan

May 16, 1985|ERIC BAILEY | Times Staff Writer

LONG BEACH — City officials have unveiled a $1.32-billion preliminary budget for 1985-86 that calls for increased funds for the police and recreation departments.

The spending plan is about 8% larger than this year's budget, according to City Manager John Dever. The City Council must vote on the four-volume budget by June 30.

Besides boosting funds for the police and recreation departments, the budget would increase spending on libraries and parks. A new fire station in the Alamitos Heights area also is to be included, Dever said.

While the city should end the current fiscal year in better shape than officials first anticipated, Dever said a significant downturn in the economy could pose problems in the coming year.

Dever predicted the city would finish the fiscal year with a $6-million surplus. Instead, it is ending 1984-85 with a balance of more than $30 million, mostly because the booming California economy resulted in the city receiving more revenue than expected from the state and other sources, Dever said. State funds collected through taxes and other fees are funneled to the cities according to their populations and other demographic characteristics.

$13 Million Surplus Seen

Officials now estimate the city will close the 1985-86 year with a surplus of about $13 million.

Dever warned, in a written budget overview, that the economy during the coming year will likely "level out." Meanwhile, he said, funds from the federal government continue to plummet.

Because of those factors, Dever said, city financial advisers will have to keep a wary eye on the budget "to be prepared for a reevaluation" if federal funds decline more dramatically than expected or the general economy tails off.

Council members have little leeway in handling the bulk of the budget because it is tied up in self-supporting city agencies such as the gas and water companies, the airport and waste disposal services.

In addition, the council has no authority over more than $400 million that is collected from oil operations in the area. The bulk of that money is, by law, passed on to the state. The city's share, through an agreement with the state, has been steadily decreasing each year, and in 1987, it will reach a base $1-million annual payment.

The council focuses most of its attention on the so-called discretionary budget, that 14% that is unfettered by spending restrictions. The discretionary budget is expected to grow, from about $162 million this year to more than $186 million during 1985-86, an increase of nearly 15%.

Pay for Police Assistants

The preliminary budget proposal calls for $70 million for the police next year, up about 13% from $62 million spent this year. The patrol division would get a 12% boost, to $30 million from $26.7 million. Most of that money would go to pay 30 additional full-time employees. Of those, nine would be new "police assistants," who would relieve officers of some routine duties, Dever said.

The Police Department's training program, however, would get the largest increase. With the number of candidates at the police academy expected to double, to 550, during the coming year, the program would receive a hefty 138% increase, to $2.4 million, from about $1 million.

Spending on recreational programs also would rise by about 13%, to more than $19 million. With that increase, operating hours would be added to the community centers and six parks for after-school and weekend activities, Dever said. Maintenance and repair of parks would benefit, especially in the city's older facilities, he said.

Library hours also would be extended, and an automated system for checking in books would be installed in the city's 22 branch libraries, Dever said. The library budget is set to jump nearly 11%, from $8.4 million this year to $9.3 million in 1985-86.

A 10% increase in funds for the Public Works Department, which would operate on a $60-million budget during the coming year, would go into repairing street medians and sidewalks and pay for more tree trimming, Dever said.

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