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DWP transfers $73.5 million to city of L.A.

May 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Department of Water and Power Tuesday finally agreed to send the city of Los Angeles $73.5 million. A unanimous DWP commissioners vote ends a dispute between the city and the utility that's made headlines for weeks.The Los Angeles City Council has been trying for nearly two months to balance the budget. At the same time it's been battling the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The DWP wanted a rate increase and the city wanted a $73-million transfer of money promised by the DWP.

"It's absolutely essential if that money does not come in and we programmed it already," said L.A. City Councilman Bernard Parks. "That's a $73-million hole that we'd have to address between now and June 30th."

The DWP board Tuesday, in only a few minutes, unanimously approved the $73-million transfer.

Last week, the city gave the utility a 4.8-percent rate increase. Some council members have angrily accused the utility of a scam. The DWP had the money all along, says Parks, and the head of the council budget committee says they could play this game every year.

"This new increase will not come about until July 1st," said Parks. "Without a penny from that new increase they now found the 73 million just miraculously to send forward."

Mayor Villaraigosa's new economic guru is Austin Beutner. In addition to the 13 other departments, like the airport and ports, he's been temporarily appointed as general manager of the DWP. The council Tuesday heard Beutner's take on what needs to be done.

"I think what we've seen perhaps is an issue where leadership has become distracted and it is an issue of leadership today," said Beutner.

The last round hasn't been fired between the city council and the DWP board of commissioners, but in this latest fight councilman Parks says the DWP is the winner.

After weeks of angry and sometimes loud debate the city gets what it needs from the DWP. The DWP gets its rate hike, the city gets its $73 million to balance the budget.


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