The Long Beach City Council has approved a new budget that reduces the number of firefighters from four to three, among other measures taken to close a $17 million deficit. But the City Council was divided, the vote going 6-3.
With several cuts proposed to parks, libraries, police and fire departments, the controversial budget favored by Mayor Bob Foster and others including Third district Councilman Gary DeLong was opposed by the three dissenting City Council members--including Gerrie Schipske (5th District), a retired fire chief and about 20 community members who took to the podium to voice their opinion, according to LBReport.com.
The so-called "emergency budget" was approved earlier this month despite opposition, with fiscal year 2012 measures going into effect October 1. A restoration of some of the cut services will take place in 2013, as indicated in a document from city officials.
One-time expenditures approved for fiscal year 2013 total nearly $17 million and include $2,356,000 for police overtime and gang enforcement, $374,000 for the Police Prisoner Transport Unit and almost $1.3 million to recreation and youth sports, according to the budget.
While many of the contested cuts to police and fire departments persisted, the approved budget allocates $354,000 to go toward adding four police service specialist positions to support vice investigations, sex crimes, crime lab and the East Division of the Long Beach Police Department.
Additionally, the 2013 fiscal year budget will restore three police service specialist programs and convert them to public safety coordinators in development services, according to the budget.
Some of the recreation programs slated for slashing will get a reprieve in 2013 when after school recreation and sports programs will be restored at 14 parks.
In the face of “an increased reliance on self-checkout” and “limited library programs” at six neighborhood libraries, a revised $400,000 reduction means that half of the branches will receive a restoration of such services this year, and the remaining three in 2013, according to the budget.
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