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Members of the Los Angeles City Council are currently reviewing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s proposed $7 billion budget for fiscal year 2011-12, which attempts to balance the city’s $457 million deficit through a combination of structural reforms, operational efficiencies and furloughs.
The furloughs for the majority of the city’s civilian workforce can be eliminated if members ratify a pending agreement with the Coalition of Los Angeles.
“This budget reflects my steadfast commitment to making Los Angeles a city where neighborhoods are safe, parks and libraries are open, streets are paved, and there is a healthy reserve fund that ensures that the city is financially stable for generations to come,” Villaraigosa said. “In order to preserve these services and priorities, this budget makes long-term structural changes to move Los Angeles towards a fiscally sound and sustainable future.”
City Councilmember Bernard Parks, 8th District, heads the budget committee and said that the mayor’s budget needs closer scrutiny.
“The number one issue is verifying the revenue numbers,” Parks said. “If you miss by just a couple of percentage points, you can be in a major deficit from the very beginning.”
Parks and the budget commission, which includes Councilmembers Greig Smith, 12th District; Bill Rosendhal, 11th District; Paul Koretz, 5th District; and Jose Huizar, 14th District, will carefully examine the mayor’s budget proposal until May 10, when they will present it to the full city council for review.
Another concern of Parks’ is maintaining the city’s reserve fund, which currently stands at $177 million, calling it the city’s “only real safety net.”
The mayor’s proposed budget includes funding for graffiti removal and gang reduction and youth development services, including the expansion of the Summer Night Lights program from 24 to 32 parks citywide. The budget also includes funding for expanded library hours, including Monday service; new park and recreational facilities; 735 miles of street preservation and resurfacing; the repair of 300,000 potholes, a 20 percent increase from the prior year; updated community plans and planning for future transient-oriented and pedestrian-friendly districts; and replacement of the existing street lighting system with cost saving and energy efficient, light-emitting diode technology.
The mayor’s budget also maintains the size of the LAPD, but cuts overtime; reduces fire department services in some areas; and eliminates 640 mostly vacant city jobs.
“This budget gives us all a chance to invest in our city and our future,” Villaraigosa said. “It gives us the opportunity to make structural changes by reigning in our pension and healthcare costs, and it gives employees the opportunity to invest in themselves to end furloughs and the cycle of layoffs, displacement, and uncertainty.”
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