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Top L.A. County official to become Villaraigosa and City Council's budget advisor

June 24, 2009 | 11:55 am

Miguel-Santana-AnneCusack Just as Los Angeles tries to close a $530-million budget gap, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has picked a high-level Los Angeles County executive to serve as the city’s top financial budget adviser, sources familiar with the hire said today.

With the mayor and City Council finalizing an agreement to offer thousands of workers early retirement, Villaraigosa selected the county’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer Miguel Santana, who has been supervising the handling of homeless and social services, including welfare-to-work programs and child protective services.

The Council, looking for “shared sacrifice” from its employees, could vote as soon as Friday on a salary agreement with the Coalition of L.A. City Unions, which represents 22,000 employees. That agreement is designed to avert layoffs and furloughs by delaying salary increases for two years and giving six raises between July 2011 and January 2014, plus two cash bonuses in 2012 and 2013.

Santana’s nomination still must be confirmed by the Council. If Santana is lucky, Villaraigosa and the Council will have completed their contract talks with police officers, firefighters and roughly 30,000 civilian employees before his first day on the job as city administrative officer.

Still, the city faces another large budget shortfall in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, a portion of it caused by big losses in two city pensions systems. And it could take another big financial hit in just a few weeks, as Sacramento lawmakers try to resolve their own budget woes.

Santana briefly worked for the law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal before being hired in 2007 by Bill Fujioka, chief executive officer for county government. A resident of Claremont, Santana was a 13-year veteran in the office of County Supervisor Gloria Molina, rising from a legislative aide to chief of staff. Before that job, he worked for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, an advocacy group focused on Latinos and social justice.

-- David Zahniser at L.A. City Hall

Photo: Miguel Santana at a Board of Supervisors' meeting in April. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times