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Citing $14.6M deficit, L.B. officials say city is in 'dire emergency'

142 employees are let go, and more layoffs may follow

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The City of Long Beach is officially broke.

John McNally, the newly appointed executive assistant to City Manager Donna Garden, said the city has a $14.6 million deficit, the result of budgeting in previous years that relied on income that never materialized.

On Wednesday,  142 part-time city employees, considered non-essential, will be laid off. They include people who work in the city's recreation department, youth department and senior center.

"The city is on the brink of a fiscal emergency," said John McNally Tuesday morning.

A formal budget is to be presented to the Long Beach City Council Thursday.  

McNally said "serious discussions" were underway Tuesday with union officials representing other city employees, including police, fire and the Civil Service Employees Association. 

The city has been in contact with New York State's Financial Control Board, seeking relief, McNally said.

The city has had financial difficulties for years now, and word that it has a steep deficit is not a surprise to many officials.

In previous years, McNally said, the city relied on income that did not materialize. "They budgeted for income that never happened," he said. Money did not come in from anticipated sources such as beach fees, water fees and other items.

In 2014, McNally said, the city had a $9 million surplus. But as the anticipated revenue did not come in, "that figure dwindled and dwindled and dwindled."

Ian Danby, chairman of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, said, "I hope we can turn this around. It's a time of pandemic. We've got to pull together."

Danby said the chamber will survey members to understand their problems fully and how they can be resolved.