Guest Column

Long Beach sand remains in my shoes


Thank you for the honor of serving as your city manager for the past six years. As a city, we have faced incredible challenges — an inherited fiscal crisis and Superstorm Sandy. We faced each one together and have come out stronger, smarter, and safer.

Looking back, we were near bankruptcy in January 2012. Our administration had inherited a $14.8 million deficit and a record five-level credit rating downgrade. Since that time, we worked to generate a $24.2-million turnaround that resulted in credit rating upgrades and a restored fund balance. This was achieved through merging our fiscal and physical recoveries and the implementation of strict fiscal reforms that included significant reductions in spending; growth of new revenue streams; negotiated labor concessions; a right-sized, reorganized work force; and a long-term financial recovery plan.

In October of our first year, Sandy struck. We had our hands full setting a course for long-term recovery, working with specialized national, state, county, and local emergency responders. Following the storm, we oversaw more than $150 million in rebuilding efforts to—for the first time—protect both the ocean and bay sides of the barrier island. To this end, we worked with Governor Cuomo, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, FEMA and various government agencies to secure full state and federal funding support for a $40 million state-of-the-art boardwalk project, ultimately completed under budget and ahead of schedule.

Here we are, five years later. Our economy is growing and property values in Long Beach are going up faster than anywhere else in Nassau County. With all of that said, we’re still only halfway through long-term recovery.

Like many other municipalities across the country, the city continues to face significant increases in fixed expenditures that easily outpace revenue increases. Long Beach will have to continue to prune the structure of city government through organizational realignment and attrition.

Passing a comprehensive plan is also essential, as it will enable the city to finally update our zoning code to facilitate smart, sustainable redevelopment and protect against haphazard overdevelopment. Work must continue to enhance economic activity that fosters a vibrant downtown—full of great food, shopping and amenities—offering local jobs and protecting our home values. Make no mistake — this is the recipe for keeping taxes down going forward.

And yet many challenges lie ahead, including federal tax legislation that will hit our region hard. There is no doubt that all local governments will be forced to make increasingly tougher decisions going forward.

Our city’s recovery has not been easy. So many said Long Beach would never come back. We proved them wrong. All around Long Island, people talk about the progress we have made here in Long Beach. Our new boardwalk, our rebuilt homes and infrastructure, our developing food scene, and the Long Beach Life have created a buzz that we can all be proud of.

This is my home. My wife, Joanie, and I are proud to be raising our family here. Sage just turned two, and we are excitedly awaiting a new addition to arrive — just after the upcoming Polar Bear Plunge.

Thank you to the City Council for putting your faith in me these past six years. Thank you to our phenomenal team and workforce who have worked tirelessly. And thank you to the incredibly connected Long Beach community—your constant engagement and feedback have been invaluable.

Together, we have worked to rebuild our city towards a model of resiliency.

As a resident, I look forward to enjoying the continued progress. Beginning Jan. 1, as county comptroller — and the first countywide elected official from Long Beach — I will be proud to look out for our city for years to come.

Jack Schnirman is the Nassau County comptroller, a Long Beach resident and former Long Beach city manager.