Long Beach still operating without city manager

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LONG BEACH -

One by one, residents criticized the Long Beach City Council Wednesday night for not hiring a permanent leader to run the city.

The top administrator position of city manager has been vacant for nearly a year.

"Time to clean up this mess and get busy running this sinking ship," says Dina Fiore, of Long Beach.

Residents say the lack of permanent leadership is hurting the city, both physically and financially.

"Taxes are rising, our streets are deplorable, our water tower is over 100 years old, our infrastructure is falling apart," says Eileen Hessian.

Last week, the state comptroller's office released a report that put Long Beach at the top of the list of municipalities suffering from significant fiscal stress. The office is also auditing the city's books after many questioned Long Beach's financial and budgetary practices, including how it handled its payouts to former employees.

Community activist Roy Lester is concerned that matters will get worse if a permanent city manager isn't appointed soon.

"Things don't get done," he says. "There's no planning going on. What we're doing is we're constantly borrowing money just to exist."

City Council President Anthony Eramo says they received about 50 applications for the job and narrowed it down to a half-dozen finalists. Eramo says the council is taking time to find the right person to lead the city.

Eramo says the council hasn't set a deadline for hiring a permanent city manager, but he's hopeful one will be chosen by the end of the year.

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