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Mayor: LAX, others could absorb city layoffs

February 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
How would you trim the city's spending to close its $212-million deficit? You can voice your opinions in an online survey Mayor Villaraigosa unveiled Tuesday. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says Los Angeles International Airport is one of the departments that might absorb some of the 1,000 layoffs he's ordered to balance the budget. LAX, along with other self-sustaining departments, such as the Port of Los Angeles and the L.A. Department of Water and Power, might take more than 300 people.

"Unless we take action now, we will not be able to be in the kind of financial and fiscal health we need," said Villaraigosa.

The mayor visited the Silver Lake Public Library where he promoted a new online interactive budget simulation. It asks residents how they would trim a projected $400-million deficit. One glaring omission: Nothing is mentioned about cuts to the Los Angeles Police Department. The mayor says there is a blank space where people can add things they want.

"When we deferred cash over time, we've roughly cut according to [LAPD} Chief Beck, about 600 officers from our streets," said Villaraigosa. "We're not cutting them any more beyond where we've already cut."

The Los Angeles City Council heard Tuesday that the three proprietary departments such as LAX could absorb 340 positions. The council also waived the 30- to 70-day waiting period for early retirements.

The city council is looking for ways to save $212 million this year and nearly $500 million next year.

"I have made clear I will be proposing another 1,200 to 2,000 cuts in the next few weeks, and I will not because I want to, I will because we don't have a lot of choices," said Villaraigosa.

The mayor says it's too early to know how deeply services will be cut to L.A. citizens. But already, furloughs are having their impact. For instance, each of the city's 72 branch libraries has already had its hours cut 3.5 hours per week, and it promises to get worse.