You know the saying, “third time’s a charm?” Long Beach City Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske and voters in the fifth district will be enjoying that “charm” in the form of a budget surplus.
“I think it’s important for constituents to see we’re doing our best to minimize costs because people out there are still struggling. They’re struggling, working two, three jobs, they’re watching their money and I think they want us to do the same,” said the Councilwoman.
The district five office is seeing a budget surplus, for fiscal year 2013, of $18,173.44.
“My budget is a struggle because the majority of my costs, in my budget, are personnel costs. I had to reduce my staff. I don’t have a chief of staff, I cut that position and used more of a team method in my office, in doing so I was able to reduce cost.”
This year’s surplus is nothing new to the councilwoman. In fact, she’s managed a surplus in three of her last four budgets.
Let’s break it down:
- FY 2009-$273 surplus
- FY 2010-$3,957
- FY 2011-$13,011
Last year was the only year the district’s books were in the red.
“I went over budget $3544 due to last minute charges from our IT department. Last year, I was very embarrassed to find out I was going to be over-budget,” said Schipske.
In office since 2006, Schipske said balancing the books and managing finances was hard, but got easier of the years.
“Several of us, on the council, pushed in fiscal year 2010, everyone should get the same budget, it doesn’t make any sense, we all have the same amount of residents in our districts, and to me that’s helped tremendously because then it’s a fixed budget, everybody is on the same playing field and it makes it a lot easier, I think.”
Ensuring quality services while coming under budget is important to Schipske.
“My staff and I are trying our hardest to spend tax dollars efficiently.”
The money will go back into district programs—Parks, Recreation and Marine and Library Services—are two departments in desperate need of the funds.
“The Council, despite my objections, reduced the materials budget for libraries the last several years, this money will help significantly,” she said.
“There has always been an on-going need to replace both materials and equipment too.”
In fact, her office actually does something else, throughout the year to further help the department. It’s called “Library Roundup.”
“We put little boxes out at all the libraries and local businesses and we ask people to round up their spare change and then that money is given to the libraries for materials.”
As for the Parks, Recreation and Marine department, “they have been sorely underfunded with programming money and infrastructure,” said Schipske.
The councilwoman, who is termed out next year, will be leaving office in July 2014. I guess you can say this is her parting gift.
“I’m hoping to leave the district in a good shape to whoever wins my seat. Hopefully they can just pick up and not have a problem.”
As one of her last biggest accomplishments, Schipske wants her constituents to know she worked hard for them.
“I’m trying to be transparent about what we’re doing. I think voters appreciate that. They know it’s a difficult task that we have but they know we have their interests at heart.”