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Long Beach voters may consider utility merger in November 



The Lengthy Seaside Metropolis Council on Tuesday, Could 17, took the primary steps in inserting a measure for voters to think about on the November normal election poll — this time, pertaining to a possible merger of town’s water and fuel utility departments.

Lengthy Seaside is the one massive metropolis in California that has two individually managed utilities — and officers have been contemplating merging the 2 for years. Now, that course of is underway.

The Metropolis Council’s consideration of the problem was prompted by a unanimous vote from the Lengthy Seaside Board of Water Commissioners, who requested the council to think about beginning the method of merging the 2 departments final week.

As a result of a merger would require a change to town’s constitution, a voter-approved poll measure is required for the merger to undergo. With the Metropolis Council’s unanimous approval of the request to think about the merger, the problem will now go to town’s Constitution Modification Committee.

The Constitution Modification Committee — which is comprised of all metropolis councilors and Mayor Robert Garcia — will set up two public hearings, one in mid-June and one other in mid-July, to gauge public opinion in direction of a possible constitution change and utility merger. Then, on August 9, the Metropolis Council will determine whether or not to position a measure on the November poll.

Consolidation has lengthy been thought of for one major purpose: The fuel and water departments each serve the identical clients. Residents and companies in Sign Hill additionally obtain fuel from Lengthy Seaside.

“Many operations are duplicative,” mentioned Water Division Normal Supervisor Chris Garner in the course of the Could 17 assembly. “The thought is we’d mix the 2 below one roof and make the most of these economies of scale.”

The Fuel Division serves roughly 150,000 metered clients and the Water Division serves about 90,000 metered clients.

Utility payments for fuel and water already are consolidated (together with sewer and refuse) and despatched out of a single workplace. The fuel company has extra clients as a result of that’s typically metered individually in multi-unit complexes, with a single water meter for the whole constructing.

In April 2020, the Water Division employed Bell Burnett and Edwards to conduct a examine on a possible consolidation.

“We imagine that it’s cheap to imagine that the coordination of water, sewer, and fuel pipeline tasks will end in efficiencies and value discount,” the examine mentioned, noting that town might save $1 million on joint pipeline enhancements, substitute and repairs for this fiscal yr.

Garner mentioned that no present staff of both division can be fired ought to a merger be accredited by the voters. Somewhat, he mentioned, positions can be lowered over time by way of pure vacancies and attrition.

If accredited, the five-member water fee will possible get a brand new identify — although that hasn’t been determined but, Garner mentioned.

“We should always take into consideration how we will utterly reimagine the position of this new division,” Vice Mayor Rex Richardson mentioned. “I’m wanting ahead to additional dialogue on the Constitution Modification Committee.”

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