LB councilmembers to join city staff in furloughs to plug deficit

City+councilmembers+now+have+the+option+to+donate+10%25+of+their+salary+back+to+the+city+to+help+plug+the+deficit.+

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City councilmembers now have the option to donate 10% of their salary back to the city to help plug the deficit.

On Tuesday, Sept. 8 Long Beach councilmembers unanimously approved a voluntary furlough program that allows them to donate 10% of their salaries back to the city.

In the wake of substantial revenue losses, all city employees are facing furloughs to alleviate the deficit. The one-time savings from these furloughs will generate an estimated $11 million for the city in the fiscal year 2021.

Though savings from the councilmembers’ reductions will only amount to a couple thousand dollars, many felt it was necessary to stand in solidarity with city employees.

“We think it’s only right and fair, if we’re asking city employees to participate in furloughs, that we take cuts ourselves,” Councilmember Al Austin said.

During the council meeting, there was some contention over where the 10% should be allocated.

Councilmember Stacy Mungo made a motion to give councilmembers the option to donate those savings to either the Parks, Recreation and Marine Department or to the city’s libraries. Both departments are facing substantial budget cuts due to the city’s deficit.

As councilmembers began to propose new ways of allocating the money, she suggested allowing donations to nonprofits that fill a gap in city services, given that many city services have been reduced by budget cuts.

Things got dicey when councilmembers began to debate where the money should go and whether councilmembers should have any choice in allocating their savings.

“For me, this was about showing solidary with the workers, that we are contributing to the city’s deficit and we’re also going to participate in the furlough,” Richardson said. “For me, it wasn’t about cherry-picking nonprofits.”

Mungo stood her ground, still supporting the option to let councilmembers allocate funds to the city’s parks or libraries.

When her motion came to a vote, it failed 4-5.

In the end, the council unanimously voted to direct the savings back into the general fund. City Manager Tom Modica will have discretion over where those funds are allocated.

The next city council meeting will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 5 p.m. via teleconference.