Mayor Villaraigosa approves $6.9-billion budget
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Thursday signed a $6.9-billion budget that cuts some city services and adds others while avoiding layoffs.
The budget closes a $336-million revenue shortfall by eliminating police overtime pay and shutting down some fire engine teams. It also provides money to restore some services that were cut in recent years, including library hours and pothole repairs.
The mayor did not veto any part of the budget, which was approved last month by the Los Angeles City Council on a 15-0 vote. Balancing the city's books was less painful this year, compared to years past, when officials slashed thousands of jobs and imposed citywide furloughs.
In a statement Thursday, Villaraigosa said that was partly due to concessions from city workers that were negotiated earlier this year.
"Critical city services would have been reduced due to furloughs if not for the significant sacrifices made by our hard-working employees," Villaraigosa said. "Their willingness to come to the negotiating table to help the city preserved jobs, maintained services and put thousands of city employees back to work full-time."
But not everyone was happy with the budget.
The firefighters union protested the approval of a controversial Fire Department redeployment plan, which calls for trucks or ambulances at about one-fourth of the city's 106 fire stations to be put out of service.
And the police union complained about the roughly $120 million in cuts levied against the Los Angeles Police Department.
Around $80 million of those cuts come from the elimination of overtime pay for cops. About $41 million of the LAPD's budget cuts have not yet been detailed.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said last month that the department's ability to close the $41-million gap rests on whether city negotiators can extract sufficient savings from the police union.
A spokeswoman for Mayor Villaraigosa said Thursday that those negotiations are still ongoing.
Other budget cuts include a 10% reduction to homelessness programs and a more than 6% cut in graffiti removal efforts. The city's system of neighborhood councils and the City Council itself had their budgets reduced 10%.
The Recreation and Parks Department saw its budget effectively cut by $19 million when the council voted for reductions and a requirement that the department pay for some city services, such as water and trash pickup.
The increases include 20% more money for pothole repairs, and the return of Monday library hours.
-- Kate Linthicum
Photo: Mayor Villaraigosa during a press conference the Attorney General's office in downtown Los Angeles on May 23. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times