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Council agrees to keep hiring LAPD officers despite budget crisis

May 17, 2010 |  3:08 pm

Five hours into a meeting on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s proposed budget Monday, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to preserve the mayor’s plan for hiring enough police officers to replace those who resign or retire.

On a 13-0 vote, the council agreed to keep the Los Angeles Police Department at 9,963 sworn officers, the same amount budgeted last year. Those officers will be hired at the same time that the city is shedding thousands of civilian employees to help balance the budget.

So far, 2,400 civilian employees have retired early. An additional 100 have been laid off. And more than 300 have moved into departments that are unaffected by the "general fund" budget crisis, such as the Department of Water and Power.

Councilmen Paul Krekorian and Paul Koretz were absent during the vote. The council still has not decided whether to approve another major component of Villaraigosa’s budget: eliminating 761 civilian jobs, through layoffs if necessary.

Councilman Herb Wesson is pushing an alternative plan to close the budget gap without additional layoffs or furloughs. The unions that represent city employees support Wesson’s plan -– which contains many of their own proposals -- and have been looking for the eight votes that would ensure passage.

More than an hour of Monday’s meeting was devoted to a proposal for closing an animal shelter in the San Fernando Valley. That facility does not serve the public but provides a place for the Department of Animal Services to store certain animals.

The council tabled that proposal, at least for a few hours, after animal officials revealed that at least 2,400 animals could be killed if the Northeast Shelter were closed next year. Councilman Tony Cardenas said he is trying to find other sources of money to keep the facility open.

-- David Zahniser and Phil Willon at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: L.A. Times Staff