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Pothole repair funds spared in budget deal, according to mayor

July 24, 2009 |  7:11 pm

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa praised state lawmakers Friday for rejecting a provision that would have used local transportation money to help close the state's budget gap.  The mayor spent recent days calling state lawmakers and urging them to strip the gas tax provision from the budget deal. City officials had said the loss of the $66 million this year would have brought street services such as pothole repairs and street resurfacing to a halt.

Villaraigosa congratulated lawmakers for “taking the responsible course, doing the right thing, for choosing our residents’ future over the tired solutions of the past.”

Friday's deal, the mayor said, meant that "roads will be repaired and resurfaced, potholes will be filled, well-paying and green jobs will be created."

“We’ll be able to keep our promise to the commuters of Los Angeles and clear the way to shorter commute times, less congestion and the world-class public transit system our families deserve."

Villaraigosa said the city would pursue litigation, however, to try to prevent the state from taking $100 million from the city’s redevelopment agency over the next two years.

Cecilia V. Estolano, director of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, said the “enormous take” of $83 million this year and $17 million next year would be a crushing blow to the L.A. agency.

The effect, she said, is that the agency won’t have “any money to finance any new projects or programs this year.” And the agency’s financial position is likely to become even more precarious, because property tax revenues — a portion of which are used by the agency to pay for development projects in blighted areas — are expected to fall dramatically. Estolano said the budget situation could be so bad that the agency “wouldn’t have enough money for the state to raid us.”

“It’s devastating. It means no new affordable housing projects, and that’s the only new construction going on right now,” Estolano said. “The one portion of the construction industry that still has life would be snuffed out by the state.”

-- Maeve Reston at City Hall