Karen Bass
Karen Bass. Campaign photo

Mayor Karen Bass is expected Friday to sign the city’s revised $13 billion budget for fiscal year 2023-24, following the City Council’s vote earlier this week to approve its amended version of her originally proposed spending plan.

After weeks of deliberations, hours of public comment and final revisions, the council voted 13-1 to approve its amended version of the mayor’s budget. The final version includes an unprecedented $1.3 billion to address housing and homelessness and about $3.2 billion for the Los Angeles Police Department.

“(Wednesday’s) vote (by the council) will allow our city to scale the strategies that my office has already begun to implement to confront the emergency of homelessness with the urgency we need, boldly advance new methods to make our neighborhoods safer and strengthen our city’s infrastructure to continue combating climate change and improving city services,” Bass said in a statement.

She thanked Council President Paul Krekorian and City Councilman Bob Blumenfield, chair of the council’s Budget, Finance and Innovation Committee, and the rest of the council for “locking arms” with her.

The budget will take effect July 1.

Krekorian said in a statement that the council “built on the broad outline of the mayor’s proposed budget” with amendments to ensure “transparency and accountability” in the city’s spending. The 2023-24 budget tops $13 billion for the first time, a $1.31 billion, or 11% increase, form the prior fiscal year and includes $566 million in a reserve fund.

Councilwoman Eunissess Hernandez was the lone “no” vote. She said while there are some “important investments” in the budget, it “fell far short” of meeting the needs of Angelenos.

“We talked over and over about how we can uplift and fund these desperately needed programs and services because we wanted to create something that reflected the needs of a very diverse city,” Hernandez told her colleagues the day of the vote.

“I have to say that I’m disappointed with the outcome of this process. When we have a budget that has 25% of our money going to policing, we’re not creating a budget that is reflective of our values and the demands that we get every day from our constituents.”

Other council members supported the budget and applauded the investments outlined within. Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez in a statement said it was the “most progressive budget in the history of Los Angeles.”

He noted direct funding for the LAPD decreased by about $22 million compared to last year, and the budget will invest $16 million in funding for alternative crisis response programs, compared to just $8 million last year.

Among the significant items in the budget are those addressing the homelessness emergency, including $250 million for the mayor’s Inside Safe program, with $65.7 million allocated initially and $184.3 million to be released as the funds are expended. Once the Inside Safe account drops below $25 million, the account would be automatically replenished up to $50 million.

The plan provides City Council with the ability to halt the replenishment of the Inside Safe account, for example, if members wanted more information about how the funds are being expended or details of ongoing operations. Bass’ office would need to provide biweekly progress reports starting June 1, as well.

The budget will invest in affordable and supportive housing, funding for more personnel — police, firefighters, emergency personnel, unarmed mental health responders and civilian staff — and makes “needed investments” in pedestrian, traffic safety and city infrastructure.

With the revised budget, the council and the mayor seek to restore LAPD staffing to 9,500 officers, at the minimum, with two full classes of recruits in training and additional funding to return retired police officers to active duty for 12 months, hire additional civilian personnel and increase staffing for 911 dispatch services.

About $1 million is slated to expedite the application process for candidates looking to join the LAPD. The city’s budget will also fund an incentive program providing bonuses of up to $15,000 for new officers and lateral recruitment.

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