Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Photo by John Schreiber.

Mayor Eric Garcetti released an $8.5 billion budget proposal Monday that he called the healthiest in years, including more funding for tree-trimming, street-cleaning, sidewalk repairs and affordable housing.

The proposed 2015-16 budget also calls for purchasing 7,000 police body cameras and funding more in-car digital cameras for police officers, along with an additional $5.5 million for the city’s anti-gang program and $567,000 to expand a domestic abuse response program to all police stations.

The spending plan assumes revenues will be up 5.5 percent — including property tax, sales tax and hotel tax revenue — though Garcetti said he wants to take a “very disciplined approach” to the expected additional income.

“As we all know, we are digging ourselves out of a big hole caused by the Great Recession, so we are rebuilding our city’s finances in a way that is responsible and delivers long-term stability and balance in the city,” he said.

Garcetti said the budget proposal puts $435 million into reserves, reaches the city’s own goal of funding projects to improve or build city facilities and does not use one-time income on long-term uses.

The proposed budget also assumes that about 20,000 city workers will agree to no raises and paying a bigger percentage of their health-care costs, but talks with city employee unions have dragged on since their contracts expired last year, and some workers are threatening to go on strike.

Under Garcetti’s plan, the city would spend an added $4.1 million for cleaning streets and alleys, add 1,200 trash cans, put $1 million into maintaining more park restrooms and increase the tree-trimming budget by 50 percent.

This will also be the first year the city is required to budget $31 million toward sidewalk repairs, as part of a recent a $1.4 billion settlement of several lawsuits lodged by disabled residents and advocates.

The budget also calls for $10 million to be set aside in the city’s affordable housing trust fund that is used to create more homes for low-income residents.

The plan also calls for hiring additional code enforcement and animal control officers.

The City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee will hold a series of hearings on the budget proposal starting April 28.

City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who chairs the panel, said council members will go through the budget “with a  fine tooth comb, hear from each city department about their needs and listen to the public’s input.

“My goal is to adopt a budget that reflects our city’s values and commitment to public safety and neighborhood services, and is also fiscally responsible,” he said.

City News Services

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