Mayor's Budget Proposal Opts For Cuts, Not Taxes
About two-thirds of the deficit is covered through ongoing savings and budget cuts of 6-12 percent across city departments, according to the City News Service. The mayor’s office and city council will take on budget cuts of 8 percent.
An estimated $26 million will be saved by the elimination of 669 public positions. Of those being cut, 159 are civilian clerical and support workers in the Los Angeles Police Department; another 72 are from 10 other city departments and the last 438 jobs are, as of now, unfilled.
One bright spot in employment is the preservation of the LAPD’s hiring. The city will look to save about $2.9 million annually, the City News Service reports, by transferring over 200 employees from the General Services Department’s Office of Public Safety to LAPD.
Under the plan, the new retirement age would raise from 60 to 67, with the new maximum retirement allowance set at 75 percent of the worker’s final compensation, reports The City Maven. The proposal also reduces the cost-of-living adjustments.
In an attempt to reduce what he calls “long-term budget cost drivers,” Villaraigosa said in a press conference that the new budget would require city employees to take on more of their health care costs. They would pay 6 to 10 percent more for health insurance or opt to pay more in co-pays with fewer benefits.
Not everything is getting cut, however. The Los Angeles Fire Department, which had $50 million cut from its budget last year, is having some funds restored. The money will go toward reopening training facilities and providing six more ambulances during peak hours in reaction to complaints about slow response times.
The budget also sets aside property tax money to extend library hours and allots funding from Measure R to repave 800 miles annually and fill 350,000 potholes.
One point of criticism the plan faces is the proposed $83 million spent on one-time solutions. City Controller and mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel challenged Villaraigosa on this point, saying in a statement: “The city cannot continue depending on one-time solutions to close the budget gap. Long-term solutions must be implemented.”
Greuel went on to say the proposed layoffs would be entirely unnecessary if the city just addressed waste. “Since being elected Controller, I have found dozens of instances of waste, inefficiency, abuse and fraud. We have identified more than $130 million in wasteful spending. Why hasn’t the city improved debt collection or cut down on duplication of services? Why do millions of dollars of gasoline, purchased by city taxpayers, remain totally unaccounted for?”
Another issue with the budget, according to Miguel Santana- the city administrative officer and top budget analyst- is the lack of tax increases. Without any increases, Los Angeles would not be able to maintain its public safety departments, Santana argued. To cover the gap, Santana recommended doubling the property sales tax and the documentary transfer tax in addition to increasing the parking tax by 5 percent-- all of which would bring in an estimated $140 million.
Starting tomorrow, the City Council Budget and Finance Committee will hold hearings to discuss the budget.
Reach staff reporter Karla Robinson here.