Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Villaraigosa unveils $7.05-billion budget, cuts own $223,000 salary by 12%

April 20, 2009 |  1:37 pm

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today released a proposed $7.05-billion city budget that relies heavily on gaining concessions from unions, including police officers and firefighters, and leasing out city-owned parking garages to close an estimated $530-million shortfall.

Villaraigosa also proposed a 10% reduction in personnel costs for all city departments to save about $200 million, cuts that could be achieved through options that include potential layoffs, early retirements, work furloughs or city workers agreeing for forgo cost-of-living raises. The mayor said he would start by cutting his $223,000-a-year salary by 12% and freezing all salaries in the mayor’s office.

“If we don’t exercise the judgment, the responsibility to make the tough choices here, what we’ll end up with is 2,800 people losing their jobs and, importantly, the services that come with it,” Villaraigosa said in a morning news conference.

His comments were aimed directly at the city’s public-employee unions,  which are fighting any attempt to lay off city workers, scrap raises or increase costs for healthcare and pension benefits and instead are pushing for an early retirement package that would take hundreds of employees off the payroll.

The budget includes a proposal to lease out six city parking garages to private investors, a program modeled after a Chicago effort that raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the city but also led to significant increases in parking rates. Villaraigosa said the city also is exploring leasing out parking meters and privatizing the Los Angeles Zoo and convention center.

The budget now goes to the City Council, which will hold a series of hearings on the budget proposals before voting on the spending plan before July 1.

-- Phil Willon and Maeve Reston