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Mayor Villaraigosa reveals $6.9B budget plan

April 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proposed a $6.9-billion budget Wednesday. He calls it a path to financial stability. But some say the spending plan is more than Los Angeles can afford.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's budget would expand library hours and increase street repairs. But he warns the city's 33,000 employees they could lose up to 36 days of pay if they don't make concessions on pensions and healthcare.

The budget includes the possibility of 26- and 36-day furloughs. There is a $457-million deficit. But the budget keeps the police department at its current level and maintains fire department staffing, while eliminating $54 million.

A coalition representing 19,000 city employees is voting on a new contract already approved by their leadership.

"If the others approve the template that the coalition has tentatively agreed to there won't be furloughs for anybody," said Villaraigosa.

Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti joins the mayor in turning up the pressure on the unions.

"We hope that they will protect their future healthcare by paying in right now. That will not only help balance the budget, but end the furloughs," said Garcetti.

The LAPD is taking the biggest hit, $100 million, which includes cuts in overtime, 8 percent of its budget. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck worked with the mayor on the budget.

"The continued hiring of police officers makes us strong enough that we can not only respond in an emergency, but that I can flex officers to accommodate crime trends," said Beck.

The mayor proposes borrowing money to pay for debt service. He's optimistic about the economic recovery.

City Council Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Bernard Parks thinks Villaraigosa may be too optimistic.

"It appears that the revenue projections are over-optimistic, particularly in light that as of December of last year they showed a significant drop in all of our revenues," said Parks.

If the mayor cannot get the union concessions, it's going to be a far different budget that comes to the city council. There are a lot of "ifs" in this, including his financial projection. There's a long road to go.