Thursday, December 17, 2009

City Council Ends Discussion of Taking More Long Beach Port Money

The Long Beach City Council on Tuesday voted 7-2 to table further discussion of a city charter amendment that would increase the Port of Long Beach's annual transfer of profits to the city's coffers.

The amendment effort, the latest in a unsuccessful string of such attempts over the past several years, sought to increase the amount of port profits transferred to the city from the current 10 percent limit to either 15 percent or 20 percent. Approved in the 1980s, the 10 percent transfer is not automatic and must be requested by City Hall, which the city never did until it was hit with economic woes in the early 1990s. Since then, the city has requested the funds each year. Last year, the port transferred $16 million to the city under the rule.

Port officials, local business groups, and a large coalition of shipping industry trade groups vehemently opposed the increase of the port transfer.

City Council proponents of the plan had been hoping to have the increase language moved to a council committee that oversees ballot initiatives. As part of the city charter, any change to the port transfer would have to be voted on by the citizens of Long Beach. Tuesday's council vote, however, did not send the item to the council committee and based on election schedules, the item, if passed through the council in the future, would not be eligible for a ballot until 2011.