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Layoffs of Los Angeles city workers coming, says Mayor Villaraigosa

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa speaks to Eyewitness News in this undated file photo.

March 30, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Once again, the Los Angeles City Council will have to make tough choices to balance the budget. At stake are potentially hundreds of city jobs, public safety and a more than $220 million deficit.

According to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, layoffs are a virtual certainty.

"I'm going to be proposing more in the way of civilian layoffs so that we can protect fire and police because that is our priority," Villaraigosa said.

The last budget saw nearly 5,000 jobs and employees eliminated.

Councilman Dennis Zine spent three decades with the LAPD and is still a reserve officer. He thinks the city has get money owed it by businesses, like parking garages, before there are any layoffs.

"We don't have sufficient medical personnel within the fire department to respond to calls. That's a priority. We need to identify the priorities within the city and then fund those. And maybe some of the functions that we are currently doing we can't continue to do," said Zine.

There is universal agreement that the police and fire departments have to be preserved. But what will be cut again remains to be seen.

Julie Butcher, head of the largest union of city employees, says a special commission recommended up to $400 million in savings and an inspector general, which she says the mayor has ignored.

"Now a year later the mayor has still not filled the position, still has not initiated any of the process improvements, any of the strategies that were developed by the business community," Butcher said.

The mayor is scheduled to present his budget to the city council on April 20.

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