LONG BEACH - Long Beach may spend up to $500,000 this year to reform employee compensation and investigate opportunities to outsource certain municipal services.
The payoff for the expenditure - which the City Council will consider on Tuesday - could be much greater, however.
A study conducted earlier this year by Cincinnati-based Management Partners said that various reforms to city operations, the majority connected to changing overtime compensations, re-evaluating skill premium pay for specialized skills and education incentives, would save as much as $28.8 million annually.
The whopping figure is seen as a salve for some of Long Beach's fiscal issues. The city has balanced a string of deficits going back a decade, and has enacted $12.9 million in spending cuts for the current 2013 fiscal year.
Council members set aside $200,000 in oil surplus funds during this year's budget process to contract with Management Partners to achieve the reforms suggested by its study. Management Partners was paid $79,950 for the report.
The additional $300,000 for the initiative would be drawn from self-supporting enterprise funds, officials said.
Long Beach has been seeking pension concessions from its largest union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
Other labor groups, most notably the powerful police and firefighters associations, have already agreed to pension reforms to save the city money.
The about 3,600-member IAM rejected a city proposal in August that would have combined an increased employee retirement contribution with reduced benefits for future workers in order to save $3.9 million in the general fund and $12.2 million across all funds in the fiscal year that started Oct. 1.
The IAM responded last month with a counteroffer that was similar to the city's idea, but asked that no more jobs be cut this year.
IAM business representative Dave Sterling said Friday he had not studied the proposal carefully, but that it's obvious the union would prefer not to see jobs outsourced.
"We feel the quality is much higher (in-house) and we do it more efficiently," said Sterling.
The IAM is committed to a solution that "fits both the city and our members," he added.
The Management Partners study also found that the total staffing level in Long Beach was 11.14 positions per 1,000 residents, the highest level when compared with seven other large California cities.
Oakland was second, with 9.5 positions per 1,000 population.
The other cities analyzed were Anaheim, Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento, San Diego and Santa Ana.
The council meets at 5 p.m. at City Hall, 333 W. Ocean Blvd.
A live broadcast can be viewed on Charter Communications Channel 3, Verizon FiOS Channel 21 and at longbeach.gov.