After delivering an optimistic State of the City speech, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Thursday released his proposed $9.2 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year.The budget includes $35 million to fix sidewalks, an increase for programs to help the homeless and plans to spend money raised through voter- approved measures on transportation and anti-homelessness efforts.
“Over the last four years, we have brought Los Angeles back to basics — now, it’s time to build on that progress and dream bigger for tomorrow,” Garcetti said. “This budget will enable us to continue bringing change that Angelenos can see and feel in their neighborhoods, while building the future that we have all imagined together.”
The sidewalk money is the start of a proposed $1.4 billion plan to repair the city’s broken sidewalks over the next three decades.
“I’m encouraged by the mayor’s budget proposal and appreciate that he’s supporting the City Council’s work by continuing to fund critical sidewalk and street repair, backing more housing for the homeless, improving the way Los Angeles serves the business community and increasing our investment in public safety,” said City Councilman Paul Krekorian, chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee.
The proposed budget also includes $108 million for legal settlements, a 40 percent increase from the previous year. The city has gone over its liability claims budget this fiscal year by tens of millions of dollars, and the City Council is considering issuing a judgment obligation bond of up to $60 million to replenish the city’s reserve fund.
“During the upcoming budget hearings, one issue I will raise with every department is the urgent need to reduce the growing cost of liability claims against the city,” Krekorian said. “This budget proposal rightfully acknowledges those rising costs and I’m glad the mayor is recommending a more appropriate amount to help get us through this year without endangering the health of our rainy day funds.
But it is absolutely incumbent on the city as a whole to tackle this problem head-on and find ways to reduce our liabilities on an ongoing basis. If we don’t, these costs threaten our ability to provide the level of services Angelenos deserve.”
Garcetti is required by law to present a balanced budget. He said the one submitted Thursday does not consider the bond money and is balanced without it.
A month ago, the city was facing a budget shortfall of $224 million, and Garcetti said Thursday it had grown to $263 million. But he said the budget was balanced with $103 million in cuts and more than $160 million in increased revenue. But he said the cuts would not result in the elimination of any services, saying the spending plan does things like reducing budgets to departments that traditionally return money at the end of the fiscal year.
“We’re not cutting services, we are right-sizing some of the budgeting and making sure people can live within their means, but it wasn’t a reduction of services,” Garcetti said.
Other highlights of the budget include:
- An increase to $176 million for homeless initiatives, up from last year’s $138 million.
- The “Vision Zero” program aimed at reducing traffic deaths gets an increase over last year by $14 million to $17 million.
- $3.5 million to support a new law requiring the city to update its community plans that guide development every six years.
- And $2 million for graffiti removal, which Garcetti said will help the city respond to 90 percent of removal requests within 24 hours.
— City News Service
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