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L.A. council agrees to 3,000 more job cuts by July 1

February 18, 2010 |  3:12 pm

Under the threat of a credit rating downgrade, the Los Angeles City Council on Thursday instructed agency heads to eliminate 3,000 additional city jobs “by any means necessary, including layoffs” by July 1.

The reduction — aimed in part a wresting further concessions from the city’s unions — would be in addition to 1,000 job cuts already in the works. Those alone are expected to lead to 250 to 350 workers receiving pink slips, officials said.

The council vote comes a day after Moody’s Investment Services, one of the nation’s top financial credit rating agencies, issued a negative outlook for Los Angeles because of the city’s struggles with a $212-million deficit. It also comes a week after Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called for an additional 1,200 and 2,000 job cuts — or wage reductions for city workers — to help balance the city’s books.

The council’s 9-3 decision came after members met in closed session for several hours with City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, who cautioned that tax revenues have continued to deteriorate. Unless the city finds more revenue or costs are reduced, the budget shortfall is expected to increase to $485 million in 2010-2011.

Under the measure approved by the council, police officers and firefighters would not be exempt from possible job cuts. But a spokesman for the mayor said Villaraigosa would oppose cuts to police.

Councilman Greig Smith urged members to take quick action and said Los Angeles cannot afford to engage in the financial paralysis that has consumed state government, which has battled deficits for years.

“You cannot walk away from this thinking that it’s going to take care of itself,” Smith said.

The council’s motion faced strong objections from several council members — including Richard Alarcon, Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian. Koretz said the 4,000 number had been “plucked out of the air” with no analysis. “I think it’s a devastating mistake,” he said.

Councilman Jose Huizar asked Santana, the city’s top financial analyst, to provide the council with a list within 20 days of the 4,000 positions that would be eliminated. “We need this information before we just use a sledgehammer and draw the gauntlet and not even know what the impact on the city will be.”

A spokesman for Villaraigosa praised the council’s vote, and said immediate action was necessary to help the city avoid insolvency.

“They clearly got the message,” said Deputy Chief of Staff Matt Szabo. “This is entirely consistent with what he’s said for weeks. “The mayor’s been saying we need to downsize city government and live within our means. The council took action today to achieve that goal.”

Victor Gordo, an attorney for the Coalitions of L.A. City Unions, said he was disappointed by the call for more job cuts before the council fully explored a variety of proposals to increase revenue and trim expenditures.

“We are committed to finding solutions that preserve city services and city jobs,” said Gordo. The coalition represents an estimated 22,000 city workers.

-- Phil Willon and Maeve Reston at Los Angeles City Hall