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Los Angeles' economic growth will be ‘slow and sluggish,’ City Controller Wendy Greuel predicts

March 2, 2011 | 12:35 pm

City Controller Wendy Greuel. Los Angeles officials seeking a solution to massive budget deficits -- expected to balloon to $350 million next year -- shouldn't expect much help from property taxes and other revenues.

That's the sober message from City Controller Wendy Greuel, the city's chief accountant, who on Wednesday released her office's economic forecast for the upcoming fiscal year. Growth, Greuel predicted, will be "slow and sluggish."

For fiscal year 2011-12, Greuel said, property tax receipts are expected to decline by $24 million. Several other key revenue streams -- business taxes and license permits and fees -- are also likely to decrease, the controller said, negating increases in other city revenue streams.

Overall, the city is expected to receive $6.3 billion in revenues next year, or about $130 million less than during the current fiscal year.

"The mayor and city council cannot and should not count on an increase in tax revenue to help balance the city's massive budget deficit," Greuel warned.

In fact, city lawmakers have been cautioning for weeks that no prospective surge in tax receipts or other revenue was on the horizon, which raises the likelihood of more layoffs, furloughs and service cuts. But the controller's report, a spokesman said, is the most detailed forecast to date.

On the optimistic side, Greuel projected that L.A.'s unemployment rate should drop from 12.4% to 11.7%. That marks an improvement, but unemployment is still expected to top national levels.

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-- Patrick J. McDonnell

Photo: L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

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