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L.A. Council will get briefing on finances, a day after city's credit rating is downgraded

November 25, 2009 |  7:29 am

Mayor The Los Angeles City Council today will get what is expected to be a sober briefing on the city's financial condition, a day after L.A.'s credit rating was downgraded.

The city’s credit was downgraded  by Fitch Ratings on $2.94 billion in debt, meaning that borrowing money will become more expensive for Los Angeles as it grapples with a $98-million current-year budget shortfall and faces the prospect of graver fiscal woes in the years ahead.

The financial ratings service credited Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council for taking aggressive action to whittle down the budget gap but added it wasn’t enough and that the ratings outlook for the city remained negative. Fitch Ratings, in a statement released today, said the “city’s economic decline, as evidenced by high unemployment, sales tax weakness, assessed value losses and high home foreclosure ... will impede financial recovery."

“It signals that we have some very difficult choices to make in the future," said Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, the city’s top budget official. “We simply cannot be spending at the rate that we have in the past."

Council President Eric Garcetti said the rating downgrade showed that the city still needed to make sweeping structural changes to its $7.05-billion budget. Even after winning concessions from city unions, including pay cuts and an early-retirement program, the city still faces a $98-million shortfall in the current budget year and a $408-million budget gap next year.

-- Phil Willon at L.A. City Hall

Photo: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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