Yesterday, the City got important updates on two critical issues: The power outages this summer, and the FY17 city budget.
At the City Council meeting, we heard a report on the budget expectations for fiscal year 2017 from our Financial Management Department. The City Council has practiced sound, responsible budgeting, and, because of that, our budget projections have improved. While we expect manageable deficits in the coming years, we have made wise decisions and focused existing resources to pay down our pension liabilities.
A small cut of 1.3 % across departments in fiscal year 2017 will address the projected shortfall, but it’s absolutely critical we do not take even one police officer off our streets – and, ideally, we should be adding more police to our force. I am committed to a sound, responsible budget, and to ensuring we keep our robust reserves healthy.
I want to thank our Financial Management staff and our City Manager’s office for their hard work on the budget, and I want to thank the Councilmembers for their prudence and caution, which has kept us in a fiscally sound position. I know that with a thoughtful approach to our next budget, we can continue on this strong path.
Also yesterday, Southern California Edison (SCE) released two reports taking full responsibility for the power outages, and explaining what steps they are taking to ensure outages like that never happen again. SCE identified technical failures, lack of appropriate monitoring and inadequate training as the causes of the outages. They report that new procedures, policies, and technology are being put in place to prevent such failures from occurring.
We appreciate SCE taking full responsibility, however, we are waiting for the Public Utilities Commission to release its independent findings before we make final assessments and implement plans to move forward. The independent review, by the PUC, is critical to understanding our next steps. It is critical that SCE continue to make investments to repair the damage that was done to Long Beach as a result of these events.
We can be thankful for both of these announcements as we begin preparations for Thanksgiving next week.