Mayor requests a third workshop before budget is approved

Around 12 boats burn in Long Beach

Approximately 12 boats in Long beach were burned during the early hours of Monday, May 8. This was confirmed by Long Beach Fire Capt. Jack Crabtree, who is the LBFD’s public information officer. Crabtree wrote that LBFD was called for service at 1:15 a.m., to the dock behind the 100 block of Marina Drive. “We had all the vessel fires extinguished by 1:40AM,” Crabtree wrote.

He did not have an estimate for the value of the property damage.

He wrote that around 12 boats caught fire, of which four or five sank. “These numbers will be solidified once the investigation is complete (the investigation is on going, no update on what started the fire),” Crabtree wrote.

Proposed 2023-2024 budget is available online

The proposed Seal Beach city budget is online for anyone who wants to download it. Go to the Finance Department page on the city website. It’s 312 pages long.

Third budget workshop requested

During the this week’s, regular City Council meeting. District Two Councilman/Mayor Tom Moore said he was shocked by the five-year budget forecast. During last week’s workshop, he expressed concern because the five-year forecast at that time projected a possible deficit of more than $5 million in 2028. He asked for another budget workshop before the council approves the budget.

(The city approves the budget in June.)

City Manager Jill Ingram said they would be happy to have another study session. Ingram described the budget forecast as fluid.

A date has not been announced for the workshop. A bit more on the forecast below.

A budget question and a budget answer

During the May 2 budget/capital improvement program workshop (the second of two), District Five Councilman Nathan Steele said the city had closed a $2 million budget gap to balance the budget. On May 2, I emailed Finance Director/Treasurer Barbara Arenado to find out if that was correct.

On May 8, Arenado wrote back: “Thank you for your question. The FY 2023-24 Proposed Budget is balanced and will be brought for adoption by City Council on May 22, 2023.”

Budget forecast

Sometimes a table or chart can be easier to understand than words, so I put a slide from a recent Seal Beach City Council budget workshop on this page. (As a writer, it physically hurt me to write that sentence.)

According to the five-year forecast, the city could be in financial trouble if expenses continue to outpace income. In fact, it projects a potential $5.5 million deficit in 2028. (District Two Councilman/Mayor Tom Moore said “5 million” during the second budget workshop held on May 2. So did District Four Councilwoman Schelly Sustarsic.)

The Sun asked Finance Director Barbara Arenado for confirmation of that number in a May 8 email.

That same day, Arenado wrote back: “The City proactively conducts a thorough review, making necessary updates and corrections to ensure a balanced budget each year.  The FY 2023-24 Proposed Budget is balanced. However, the Five-Year Outlook revealed a potential deviation if the City were to take no action in the outer years. A Five-Year outlook involves projecting financial expectations based on current data for the next five years with the information we have today. It helps the City anticipate challenges and opportunities in the longer term, enabling early and prudent action. Reviewing the outlook in advance allows the City to take necessary measures early, responsibly, transparently and in a fiscally responsible manner. This proactive approach ensures that the City is prepared to address any potential impacts and make informed decisions for long term fiscal sustainability.”

Some things to keep in mind about the forecast:

• Budget figures change constantly. •  The forecast “assumptions don’t reflect a recession,” according to the slide.

• The forecast “does not include Unfunded Needs Assessment: $250.)