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With cuts looming, some L.A. City Council members use off-budget funds to boost their salary accounts

February 9, 2010 |  6:04 am

Members of the Los Angeles City Council will renew their efforts to address the city's budget problems Tuesday as they consider a three-year plan to deal with the deficit. But as they've debated how to whittle down the city's costs, we've noticed that some have been moving money into their office's salary accounts.

This year's budget set aside $21.4 million for salaries in the 15 council offices and allocated $7.9 million for salaries in the mayor's office, according to a recent budget memo from the city's top financial analyst.

In our story today, we detail some of the council-controlled accounts that members can use for their special projects. One is their "street furniture" fund, which captures revenue generated by ads on city bus shelters. We note that:

Since November, amid dire warnings from their financial analysts about plummeting tax revenue, nine council members requested transfers of at least $1.6 million from their street furniture accounts to buttress the money available to pay their aides.

Just last week, four council members asked for transfers into their office's salary accounts: Richard Alarcon ($389,000), Tony Cardenas  ($278,000), Janice Hahn($100,000) and Bernard C. Parks ($95,000). Their motions said the funds were needed to assist on transit-related projects. These have yet to come up for debate.

-- Maeve Reston at Los Angeles City Hall


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