Long Beach Debates The Merits Of A Tax Increase

As Eileen Cain looked at prints her late husband once created, she was told about the possibility of Long Beach raising her taxes.

"Naturally, nobody wants to pay more taxes," the Long Beach resident said. "But if it's for a good reason, I guess it's okay."

A few blocks away, Angie Holmes held one end of a jump rope so her campers could exercise. The camp counselor said she would "hate to see taxes go up since we're the highest that I know on the coast. But we've got to do something for these kids."

Right now, dozens of Long Beach kids are enrolled in a six-week summer camp program sponsored by the city. Mac Patton is one of the counselors. He's also a Long Beach taxpayer.

"The city can only do what the citizens fund," Patton said. "That's the only way the city gets its money."

Long Beach Mayor Robert Bass said his city is currently operating with just under an $8 million budget.

"We bring in enough money to run things on a day to day basis," the mayor said. "We do a pretty good job of that."

The city's current budget supports the recreation programs you saw. It repairs roads. And it fixes drainage problems. Future budgets must include new expenses such as an addition at the Long Beach library, the purchase of the senior center building on Jeff Davis Avenue, and a new recreation complex.

To pay for the improvements, the mayor said Long Beach may have to ask residents for more tax money.

"Sometimes it's a cost of doing business," Bass said. "I mean it depends on how important it is to the citizens to see certain things taken care of."

The mayor said it's still too early to predict whether a tax hike will be part of next year's budget.

Long Beach aldermen did not raise taxes last year. They also didn't give raises to any city employees.