Manhattan Beach: Beach Cities Health District Finances Explained

Liz Spear

MANHATTAN BEACH, CA — A reader on Redondo Beach Patch asked the following question. Manhattan Beach Patch reached out to the communications team at the Beach Cities Health District with the reader's question. BCHD responded with information and an answer. That information follows the question below.

Question: Why is BCHD using our $4M in annual property tax dollars to test 85% non-residents of the 3 beach cities that own and fund BCHD? LA County Health is the agency funded for county-wide health testing issues, and is the agency responsible for testing. NOT BCHD. This is basically $85,000 per MONTH of our tax dollars testing non-residents as an advertising stunt for BCHD.According to a public records act request response from BCHD, nearly 85% of tests are for non-residents of the 3 beach cities that own and fund BCHD. According to another public records act request, the first 3 months BCHD spent about $100,000 a month on Covid testing, and they haven't reported since That means that we, the BCHD owners, are paying $85K a month to test people that don't pay a penny in taxes to BCHD. LA County Health is funded and obligated to provide testing for the County, yet BCHD is spending $1M or more on a yearly basis to test County residents that don't live in Manhattan, Redondo or Hermosa Beach, the cities that own and fund BCHD. BCHD gets $4M a year in our property taxes. This year they'll spend 50% of that on the Top 10 employees, about 25% on advertising/communications, and the other 25% Covid testing non-residents.

Response from the Beach Cities Health District

Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) is a public agency, a portion of our annual operating budget is funded through property taxes from Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach residents. However, what makes the BCHD unique is its funding model. In 2019-20, tax revenue only funded 29% of BCHD’s $13.8 million annual operating expenditure budget. The remaining 71% is self-generated through a mix of other revenue sources, including limited partnerships, investments and AdventurePlex and Center for Health & Fitness user fees. Our outgoing expenditures for 2018-19 totaled $13.9 million and was funded 27% by tax revenue.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and consequently the loss of income due to the closure of the AdventurePlex and Center for Health & Fitness operations and property rental income, the tax revenue percent of total District revenue increased from 25% in 2018-2019 to 27% in 2019-2020.

Since the pandemic began early last year, BCHD pivoted to support the community during COVID-19. BCHD efforts during the pandemic have included:

  • Operating a local testing site, first at the South Bay Galleria and since June, at the BCHD Campus on Prospect Avenue

  • Errand Assistance and Meal Deliveries for at-risk residents and residents with food security needs

  • Providing an Assistance, Information & Referral phone line to answer residents’ questions and direct them to local services or providers

  • Creating a COVID-19 assistance fund that has helped income-qualified Beach Cities residents with purchasing household items, groceries and other necessities

  • Coordinating the “Safe in the South Bay” program with the Chambers of Commerce from Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, El Segundo, Torrance and the Palos Verdes Peninsula to assist businesses with reopening protocols and safety guidelines

  • Working with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to provide a Symptom Assessment Tool for daily use by teachers, staff and students (when face-to-face instruction resumes).

  • Providing accurate, timely information via BCHD’s website and social media channels on the virus, health officer orders, guidelines and now vaccine information

BCHD has applied for reimbursement from FEMA and our Finance Team has been in frequent communication with FEMA representatives. The District provides a monthly update on total COVID-19 emergency response costs in the publicly posted board packet. The below summary was provided at last month’s BCHD Board of Directors meeting:

From BCHD Board of Directors Meeting Agenda – December 16, 2020

Expenditures, such as PPE, professional fees, media, collateral, etc. plus staff payroll hours (65,000 hours) and wages ($2,162,000) related to the COVID-19 pandemic are tracked. The District has submitted estimated expenditures through June 2020 for FEMA reimbursements. FEMA reimburses 75% of eligible expenses.

Not all expenses are eligible for FEMA reimbursement Depending on final FEMA determination of eligible expenses, the District will be applying for additional reimbursements through the FEMA emergency declaration period.

COVID-19 FEMA Submitted

Mar - Nov 2020 Mar – Jun 2020

Actuals Estimates

Labor $2,162,000 $438,000

Operating Expenses 585,000 254,000

Total $2,747,000 $692,000

75% N/A $519,000

Total errand and meal support provided to residents March through November 2020 is $44,700, of which Donations/Payments received are $36,400 and the District subsidizing the remainder. The support is being distributed to the Beach Cities at-risk residents for assistance with meals, groceries, rents, and other necessary supplies illustrated in the chart below (the chart referenced is available on page 24 of the December Board Agenda packet, available at https://bchd.granicus.com/DocumentViewer.php?file=bchd_d7f7f4aa0afdd83863d71cca9570fe94.pdf&view=1 ).

This article originally appeared on the Manhattan Beach Patch