LA City, County Officials Release 2014-15 Budget Proposals
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles County officials Monday unveiled their respective budget proposals for the upcoming fiscal year that begins in July.
KNX 1070’s Claudia Peschiutta reports Garcetti’s plan is aimed at closing an estimated $242 million budget gap for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
“My balanced budget today includes a $282 million reserve fund,” Garcetti said. “The highest level in history.”
The mayor’s $8.1 billion proposal (PDF) rules out the possibility of layoffs, but also eliminates vacant positions equivalent to 46 full-time jobs even as the mayor and other city officials push for no raises for city employees.
Garcetti also proposes spending spending $142 million to fix 2,400 of the the city’s 28,000 lane-miles of streets, including patching more than 350,000 potholes. His budget also calls for $20 million for sidewalk repairs.
The proposal includes maintaining the currently funded level of 10,000 police officers at a cost of $14.8 million and another $3.5 million to train and hire 140 more firefighters.
Under Garcetti’s Sustainability Plan, the city would reduce electricity demand by 15 percent by 2020 and slash reduction of L.A.’s reliance on imported water in half by 2025.
While Garcetti has repeatedly called for the city’s business tax to be eliminated, the current proposal delays any cuts to the tax until January 2016.
“We want you in Los Angeles, and we’re going to fight to keep you here,” Garcetti said.
As for the city’s fiscal outlook, City Council budget committee chairman Paul Krekorian told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO there is good reason to be optimistic.
“The economy has started to recover, and most importantly, we’ve made a lot of progress so far in addressing a very, very difficult challenge,” Krekorian said.
One city department that could see its budget restored to previous levels is the Los Angeles Fire Department, according to Krekorian.
“I think for most people that’s probably the highest priority for growth of programs, restoring the response times and restoring the size of the Fire Department,” he said.
Others reacted to the proposal with a touch of skepticism.
“What are going to be the labor agreements,” Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Councilman Jack Humphreyville asked. “Are the coalition unions, the civilian workers, are the fire and police going to be in a position where they take no raises for the next several years?”
Meanwhile, Los Angeles County CEO Bill Fujioka unveiled a $26.054 billion budget proposal for 2014-2015 after surviving what he called an “extremely difficult economic period” without service reductions, layoffs or furloughs.
“L.A. County handled that recession better than any municipality in the entire United States,” Fujioka said.
Calling it a balanced package that not only avoids layoffs and furloughs, but also adds 1,345 positions, Fujioka announced that the proposal calls for 345,000 homes to be reassessed as part of an increase in property taxes.
KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports among the new county jobs: 100 child social worker positions which Fujioka said will reduce backlogs and improve the safety of children in county services.
The move comes less than a year after four Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) employees were fired in connection with the death of 9-year-old Gabriel Fernandez last May.
The budget proposal also includes funds for “modest, fiscally responsible raises” for all county employees, ending several years of salary freezes, Fujioka said.
The overall spending plan marks a 0.2 percent reduction from the 2013-2014 county budget, which totaled $26.099 billion, according to the county.
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