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Council Approves 1987-88 Budget of $1.12-Billion

June 25, 1987|ROXANA KOPETMAN | Times Staff Writer

LONG BEACH — The City Council has approved a $1.12-billion budget that increases fees and taxes in a wide range of areas and cuts some services.

Under the fiscal 1987-88 budget adopted this week, the electricity tax will increase by 2%, adding about $7 a year to the bill for a typical household. Garbage collection fees for homeowners will jump by $1.08 to $8.80 a month. The tax on hotel rooms will increase from 7% to 10%. There also will be increases in fees for emergency ambulance service and marina slips.

The council doubled the price of a visit to a public health clinic, from $10 to $20, to offset the $32.24 average actual cost of a visit. Officials also approved increasing the price of a dog license from $15 to $17 a year and raising the fee for boarding pets from $1 to $3.50 a day.

The budget is expected to give the city's general fund a $3-million reserve by the end of the fiscal year next June, nearly $9 million short of the 5% reserve for emergencies that council policy calls for.

City Manager James C. Hankla said there will be more revenues, however, than he had estimated when he submitted his budget proposal last month. For instance, he said, oil revenues will be higher than estimated because the price of oil has gone up. For that reason, he reinstated two proposed cuts that had made some council members unhappy.

Hankla had proposed closing a fire station at Willow Street and Palo Verde Avenue and cutting some recreation programs. But he came in with a new plan Tuesday that spares the firehouse and park programs.

Although council members complimented Hankla on his revised proposal, some said they still wanted to see more money for the arts.

During a public hearing June 9, six people asked the council to increase proposed funding for the Public Corporation for the Arts from $392,000 to $450,000.

Hankla, noting "the current fiscal crisis in the general funds" and a 31% increase for the corporation (from $300,000 two years ago), again recommended against an increase.

Councilman Tom Clark asked his colleagues to finance various arts programs by committing the city to eventually giving the corporation 10% of the hotel tax revenues, as recommended by a blue-ribbon task force two years ago. Had the organization been given that share in 1986-87, it would have received about $500,000, he said. Clark suggested adding $30,000 for this year as a show of support for the arts corporation.

Use for Revenue Debated

The council did not discuss a report by Hankla in which he said that any attempt to earmark a portion of the transient occupancy tax to fund a specific program would require a two-thirds vote of the citizenry. But Mayor Ernie Kell--saying that the time was not right to increase funds for the arts when services will be slashed and taxes increased--suggested that any additional expenditure go to basics such as street improvements and tree planting .

Councilman Warren Harwood and Vice Mayor Edd Tuttle backed Kell; Councilwoman Jan Hall, who plans to run against Kell for mayor next year, backed Clark, a longtime adversary of Kell. Newcomers Evan Anderson Braude, Ray Grabinski and Clarence Smith said they did not want to choose between the two proposals, especially when the money is not there.

"It's very inappropriate at this time to consider increases," Grabinski said. "I'd hate to see the arts pitted against curbs and gutters."

After the meeting, Clark called the debate between streets and arts "almost absurd."

"You either vote for it or you don't vote for it," Clark said of his proposal for arts funding. Clark said he plans to raise the issue again next year.

In other budget-related matters, the council:

- Approved an additional $50,000--instead of the requested $75,000--for the city's Centennial festivities next year. The appropriation brings to $125,000 the council's contribution to the Centennial.

- Decided to move money for the arts and social services from the mayor and council's budget to the budget for another department. Earlier this month, leaders of Long Beach Area Citizens Involved criticized the council for an almost $1 million increase in its budget between the 1985-86 and 1987-88 fiscal years. Officials responded that the figures are misleading because most of the $1 million--$392,000 for the arts and almost $450,000 for social service programs--covers programs not under council jurisdiction two years ago.

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