How Would You Balance the City Budget? Take the Interactive Budget Challenge
2012-08-08 · By Editor
The City of Long Beach today launched the Long Beach Budget Challenge, an interactive online simulation for residents to better understand the complexities and trade-offs involved in the budget process.
“Long Beach can no longer provide the levels of service its residents have come to expect, and some very difficult decisions must be made,” Mayor Bob Foster said. “The Long Beach Budget Challenge exercise lets residents ‘balance’ the City’s budget, by deciding how much money to spend for public works, libraries, parks and recreation, public safety, and other City services – and how to pay for them.”
The Budget Challenge is designed to give residents a general perspective of the budget process and the public policy challenges involved in balancing a budget, as well as help to understand how different preferences impact other service areas. The choices provided in the Budget Challenge are illustrative and broadly reflect the types of services that may be impacted in the effort to balance the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget. Participants will be able to see how their choices compare to those of other participants. The cumulative results of the Budget Challenge will be reviewed as part of the budget development process. However, the results should not be considered to be representative of the public at large since the Budget Challenge is not a formal survey.
Over the last decade, year after year, General Fund revenues have not been sufficient to continue the service levels from the preceding year. This is due in large part to the general economy, which affects tax revenues, and by increasing costs, including employee costs. Unlike the federal government, the City of Long Beach must adopt a balanced budget every year. This means that solutions must be found to bridge the gap between revenues and expenditures.
In Fiscal Year 2013, the City faces a $17.2 million General Fund deficit. The General Fund supports most traditional city services, such as police, fire, parks and recreation, and libraries. In addition to the current revenue shortfall, an estimated $17.3 million more will need to be cut from the General Fund over the next two years if current services are sustained.
This is the first time the City has conducted an online budget simulation. This approach was requested by the City Council on May 1, 2012, in an agenda item brought forward by Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske and former Councilwoman Rae Gabelich.
The Fiscal Year 2013 budget goes into effect on October 1, 2012. Visit www.longbeach.gov for more information about the budget, including an easy-to-read Community Budget Book, the complete Proposed Budget, the Mayor’s Recommendations, information about proportionate share and a Budget calendar.