LONG BEACH — City officials have requested a nearly $17 million transfer from the Long Beach Harbor Department under an annual program to pay for waterfront operations such as lifeguards and beach cleanup.
Since 1995, the Harbor Department has contributed more than $170 million to the city's Tidelands Fund, a restricted city account responsible for most beachfront operations.
Under a measure passed by voters in November, the port is now expected to transfer 5 percent of gross operating revenue, estimated at $16.9 million in Fiscal Year 2012, which begins Oct. 1.
The previous arrangement had the port transfer 10 percent of net income.
David Nakamoto, the city's acting director of financial management, said that without the transfer, the city's Tidelands Fund would face a shortfall exceeding $12 million in the upcoming fiscal year.
"The (transfer) is necessary to support critical operations in the Tidelands area, including lifeguards and marine safety, waterfront maintenance, beach cleanup and maintenance operations, the Convention Center, and Long Beach Aquarium (of the Pacific) debt payments," Nakamoto noted in a memo Tuesday to the City Council.
City officials also note that the deferral of dozens of infrastructure projects in recent years along and near the shore, including repairs to the marinas, bluff erosion maintenance and seawall fixes, have grown to almost $315 million, making the transfer all the more critical now and in coming years.
In addition to the port transfer, the Tidelands Fund raises money from parking fees, oil revenues and special event leases, among other sources.
The port transfer requires approval of a majority of the five-member Long Beach Harbor Commission, along with a two-thirds majority of the Long Beach City Council. Approval is needed prior to the start of the city's fiscal year.
The Harbor Department did not include the $16.9 million Tidelands transfer in its recently approved $826 million budget for Fiscal Year 2012, but said the amount could be accommodated without significant disruptions to port operations.
"There hasn't been an official discussion yet among the (harbor) board, but it's never been an issue in the past," said port spokesman Art Wong. "We've always approved the transfers since the arrangement began more than 15 years ago, helped out whenever and wherever asked, and this year should be no different."
Wong said the port could adjust its budget to reflect the transfer when the city's request is approved by the port board.
Despite the price tag, the transfer isn't expected to dramatically alter the Harbor Department's financial health.
With the transfer, the port is still expected to generate $113 million from terminal leases and other forms of revenue in 2011-2012.
The Harbor Commission is expected to consider the budget request by July 31.
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