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Occupy L.A., wind damage may add to $72-million city budget shortfall

December 2, 2011 |  2:20 pm

Photo: Debris left behind by Occupy LA protesters at City Hall. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times Less than six months into its fiscal year, the city of Los Angeles faces a $72-million budget shortfall, raising the prospect of new cuts in services in coming weeks, according to a report released Friday.

City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, budget advisor to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council, called, as part of his interim financial status report, for nearly two dozen city agencies to absorb a combined $21 million in reductions. And he warned that the shortfall could grow once city officials calculate the cost of cleanup in the wake of this week's ferocious windstorms and the two-month encampment outside City Hall by Occupy L.A.

"These are unforeseen problems that we have to pay for one way or the other," Santana said in an interview. “The timing was not helpful.”

Santana called for reductions of $4 million to the Los Angeles Police Department, $1.7 million to the city attorney's office and $1.3 million to the Bureau of Street Services, which is charged with maintaining the city's 6,500-mile network of roads and highways. He said he needs four more weeks to find an additional $20 million in potential cuts for this year's budget, which covers the 12-month period ending June 30.

With a shortfall expected to exceed $200 million for the fiscal year starting July 1, officials are "running out of options" for balancing the budget, he added.

Santana said the city could take another financial hit if a court ruling eliminates the city's Community Redevelopment Agency in coming weeks. If that agency is dissolved, state legislation requires the city to keep all of its remaining employees, without providing the money to pay for them, he said.


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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: Remnants of the Occupy L.A. encampment at City Hall. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times