Thursday, October 1, 2009

Long Beach City Council Eyes Grab at More Port Money

The Long Beach City Council has decided to hold a study session to explore the possibility of changing the city charter to extract more money from the Port of Long Beach.

Under the current city charter, the Port of Long Beach– which is managed and operated by the city’s Harbor Department– currently transfers 10 percent of its annual profits to the city’s Tideland Fund.

The port-transferred funds can only be used by the city for certain specific uses within the immediate port, harbor, and beachfront area, known as the Tidelands. However, the city uses the port funds to offset General Fund expenses within the Tidelands area, such as police and fire service.

Any change to the city charter would have to be placed on a ballot and approved by Long Beach voters.

At Tuesday’s weekly council meeting, port and transportation industry representatives expressed opposition to the idea, claiming that an increase in the port transfer would harm the long-term goals of the port.

The idea of increasing the port transfer to the city, which last year was more than $16 million, has been floated by council members and others numerous times since the 10 percent transfer was approved by voters in the 1980s. In each case the proposals have failed to make it to the ballot.