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Mayor presents budget case to city council

February 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa went before the L.A. City Council on Tuesday. He asked the council to take action on the city's budget crisis.The audience and city workers that could be laid off didn't welcome the mayor warmly.

For Villaraigosa it was an unprecedented appearance. A chance to explain the gravity of the city's budget crisis and answer questions about choices.

"There is no situation, none that exists where layoffs will not be a part of the solution here," he said.

Several council members weren't willing to accept that bottom line.

Last week the mayor ordered the elimination of 1,000 positions to help curb the $212 million budget deficit.

There are a few hundred specially funded jobs where employees could be hired.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn accused the city department heads of not being part of the solution.

"We are in a city crisis and your departments, your departments need to step up to the plate," Hahn said. "I think we can do this without layoffs."

Hahn's colleagues weren't ready to draw a line in the sand but no one was ready to surrender without a fight.

"The layoff word is clearly, it's a dirty word to you, it's a dirty word to us," L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon said. "We don't like to go there if we can avoid it."

One possible solution is privatizing or setting up partnerships with city-owned and run operations like the zoo. The convention center is also a target for funds along with parking garages and parks.

The mayor also wants to take some $40 million from council controlled accounts.

There are no easy solutions so the city council is going to spend the rest of the week trying to find a way to cut the budget deficit.


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