Council OKs $6.8 billion budget

first_imgFacing a tough budget year, the Los Angeles City Council approved Monday a $6.8 billion budget that again boosts the ranks of the LAPD, while holding the line or providing modest increases in other city services. Even as council members congratulated themselves on passing a fiscally conservative spending plan, city budget officials warned that Los Angeles could face dramatic funding cuts in the coming year. “As we look at this year and future years, there’s a lot of fiscal uncertainty,” said Councilman Bernard Parks, who chairs the council’s budget and finance committee. There’s slowing revenue growth and a backlog of infrastructure projects, Parks said. “We also know there is rising health care, pension issues, workers compensation, and some unprecedented legal issues that we’ll be confronted. All of them could cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.” Indeed, Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller said his staff will begin to develop backup plans in case the city loses up to $260 million in utility users taxes that are being challenged in court. And Parks said the city would have to consider cutting personnel and programs, if those funds are lost. In the face of potential budget troubles, city leaders voted to place more money in the reserve fund, increasing the savings account to $201 million – the largest it has even been, officials said. In addition, the council supported Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s proposal to raise fees for brush clearance, ambulance service and planning, police and street services permits. And the council moved up implementation of a $26 trash-collection fee – from Jan. 1, 2008, to this September – in order to significantly increase funding for the Los Angeles Police Department to hire 780 officers this year. “We’ve known we’ve seen choppy waters in the fiscal environment of late and we have put aside the necessary funding to make sure Los Angeles remains the strongest big city in America fiscally,” Council President Eric Garcetti said of the city spending plan. The budget approved Monday includes: $2 million to help with the restoration of Griffith Park after a recent wildfire. $10 million to hire 250 new Fire Department recruits. $280,000 to complete several community plans. In addition, the council increased funding for sidewalk repair by $4 million and tree trimming by $1 million after those budgets were cut by the mayor. Council members also voted to provide $1.3 million for 1,250 new Tasers for LAPD officers, and they restored $1.75 million for City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo to hire gang prosecutors, school safety specialists and other positions. [email protected] (213) 978-0390160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more