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Villaraigosa says he will ask utility board to give some money to lessen budget crisis

April 7, 2010 | 11:42 am
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa budged a little Wednesday in the standoff over the budget crisis and electric rate hikes, saying he would ask his appointees on the Department of Water and Power board to transfer some money to the city's struggling general fund.

Appearing on KPCC-FM’s “Airtalk,” Villaraigosa said he would probably not request the full $73.5 million promised by the DWP earlier this year. Instead, the request would likely be in the range of $20 million, he said.

Villaraigosa warned that his request could be denied by the five-member board, which has voiced concern about its bond ratings. “I’m going to ask the Department of Water and Power for a transfer. But I can’t force them to do something that in their minds would violate their fiduciary responsibility to the ratepayers.”

The mayor said Tuesday that the city would cope with the loss of DWP money by reducing nonessential services, such as libraries and parks, by two days per week.

When the DWP was pushing for the first of four rate hikes planned this year, it had offered to throw in an extra $20 million for the city budget. That would have brought the total contribution from the utility to $93.5 million.
At the time they made that offer, DWP officials said they would come up with the extra money by reducing costs, such as travel not related to water and power operations.

Shortly before Villaraigosa spoke, Council President Eric Garcetti said the council’s proposal for raising rates had the backing of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and would have provided the same amount for the DWP’s financial obligations as Villaraigosa’s.

Garcetti said he believed a compromise would be worked out within the next two weeks.

-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall