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L. B. Budget Includes Increases in Rates, Fees

May 19, 1988|CHRIS WOODYARD | Times Staff Writer

LONG BEACH — Docking a boat, landing a private plane, paying a parking ticket or having garbage picked up could soon become more expensive.

City Manager James C. Hankla is recommending increases in fees in the next fiscal year that would touch just about everyone. He presented the budget Tuesday to the City Council, which scheduled a June 14 public hearing.

Bolstered by the proposed fee increases, the $1.1-billion recommended budget is balanced without major service cutbacks, reductions or layoffs, Assistant City Manager John Shirey said. "While this is a very tight budget situation, we have not really cut into the basic service levels of the city," Shirey said.

The budget is expected to increase by only $14 million, largely because of a continuing price slump in the oil market. The rich oil field beneath Long Beach has long been a major contributor the city's coffers.

$3 Million in Increases

The proposed budget contains about $3 million in rate and fee increases. Shirey said the changes would include:

A 4% boost in garbage collection bills. Homeowners, for example, would have to shell out another 35 cents a month, raising the monthly tab to $9.23. The increase would raise an additional $575,000 a year to cover increased costs of picking up refuse.

Higher parking-ticket fines. The penalty for the most frequently issued citation, parking a car on a street posted for sweeping, would rise from $15 to $20. The recommendation follows a survey that found that Long Beach's tickets are about 20% cheaper than those in other cities. The increase would raise about $1.2 million more a year.

A $10 boost in the cost of having a car towed by the city, bringing the cost to $60. The fee has not been raised since 1984 and Hankla said it no longer covers the cost of towing. The increase would raise an estimated $230,000 a year.

Building Permit Fees

A surcharge in building permit fees to cover the $700,000 cost of developing a one-stop system for plan checking. It would amount to about a 4.7% increase in building fees--an $86 boost for a permit to build a single-family house. The surcharge is expected to stay in effect about three years. Also, Hankla wants to impose a fee to cover the cost of providing city services to new developments, but Shirey said that proposal will not be ready until next month.

A new fee for use of the sewer system. The Board of Water Commissioners, which took control of the sewer system in February, expects to recommend a fee in July.

A 4% increase in slip fees at the city's two marinas. The monthly cost of a 30-foot slip would rise to $212 from the current $204. Shirey said Long Beach's rates are 10% below those in other marinas surveyed and 600 boats are on a waiting list.

An increase in airport rates and fees that was recommended in a recent study. Increases in gate, landing, fuel flowage and vehicle parking fees at Long Beach Municipal Airport will raise an estimated $1.5 million a year. Fees have not been increased since 1983.

While the rate and fee increases are intended to maintain or improve city services, many of the gains are offset by cutbacks.

The Police Department would add four narcotics detail officers and two motorcycle officers, the proposed budget states. At the same time, the department would be asked to save more than $775,000 by reducing overtime and by better scheduling of officers who need to make court appearances.

There would be three new positions for parking control checkers, but one less parking meter technician. There would be another animal control officer but one less tree trimmer.

New Bureau

A new bureau of human services would be added to the Health Department, an automated parking ticket system would save $160,000 through improved accuracy and the Fire Department would be able buy $40,000 worth of equipment to conduct rescue training. The jacks and other specialized equipment would be used to rescue people trapped in event of an earthquake or flood, Shirey said.

Library staffing would be cut systemwide. Fewer librarians would be available at reference desks, but library hours would not be curtailed, Shirey said.

Hankla's proposal would result in a net addition of five city jobs.

Council members voiced a few concerns, but overall they expressed satisfaction with Hankla's proposed spending plan. Councilwoman Jan Hall said she believes that if marina slip fees are raised, the city should improve its maintenance in the marinas.

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