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L.A. council members engage in last-minute jockeying to avoid hundreds of layoffs

May 14, 2010 |  8:00 pm

Three days before they are scheduled to vote on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s proposed budget, Los Angeles City Council members jockeyed Friday to find ways to avoid hundreds of layoffs by proposing new fees, reworking the numbers and demanding new concessions from public employees.

Council President Eric Garcetti offered a plan to preserve as many as 1,000 jobs by counting, at least tentatively, on revenue from the mayor’s plan for leasing 10 public parking garages.

Councilman Herb Wesson went even further, proposing no layoffs at all.

The council’s Budget and Finance Committee recommended the elimination of 1,761 positions last week. Wesson said he would push an array of new budget proposals, including fees on ambulance service and dog licenses and to demand $63 million in concessions from the work force.

“We’re optimistic that if labor sees that this is the mountain they have to climb, they will, in fact, deliver,” Wesson said.

Although Wesson and Garcetti talked up their budget proposals, Villaraigosa held a separate news conference in which he urged the council to spare his own anti-gang programs from $1.3 million in cuts.

The mayor’s budget, which takes effect July 1, calls for fewer library hours, the closure of an animal shelter and the elimination of 24 child care centers. Branch libraries would close one day per week. Regional libraries would fall from 60 to 40 hours a week starting July 1, according to budget officials.

--David Zahniser and Phil Willon