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Will Villaraigosa's $100-million cost shift be an issue in 2013?

January 6, 2012 |  2:41 pm

 

When Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa convinced other city officials to put off paying at least $100 million in personnel costs during the Great Recession, he created a campaign dilemma for several possible successors when he steps down in 2013.

Candidates Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry both voted for the strategy as City Council members, and candidate Austin Beutner served as a top Villaraigosa deputy when the complex policy was hatched.

The first candidate to criticize the fiscal footwork was City Controller Wendy Greuel.

In a recent article outlining the budget moves, Times City Hall reporter David Zahniser explained that much of that cost delay involved police overtime -- always a sticky political issue.

"The next mayor, and possibly the one after that, will inherit the tab. And, as a result of another mayoral initiative, there could be less City Hall cash at that point to pay the bills, because Villaraigosa also wants to eliminate a business tax that generates $439 million annually," Zahniser wrote.

Villaraigosa and his spokespeople defend their actions, saying it was the only way to keep city services afloat against a tide of declining tax revenues.

In Zahniser's report, candidate Beutner offered the first campaign stump slap at the mayor's budget policy. But will other candidates follow suit?

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-- William Nottingham

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