LA council approves amended version of Mayor Bass' proposed $13 billion city budget

City News Service
Thursday, May 18, 2023
LA council approves Mayor Bass' proposed $13 billion city budget
The Los Angeles City Council approved its amended version of Mayor Karen Bass' proposed $13 billion city budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- The Los Angeles City Council today voted 13-1, with one vacancy, to approve its amended version of Mayor Karen Bass' proposed $13 billion city budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year.

The budget includes an unprecedented $1.3 billion to address housing and homelessness and approximately $3.2 billion for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Following the recommendations of the Budget, Finance and Innovation Committee, Council President Paul Krekorian said in a statement that the council "built on the broad outline of the mayor's proposed budget'' with amendments to ensure "transparency and accountability'' in the city's spending.

The 2023-24 budget tops $13 billion for the first time, a $1.31 billion, or 11%, increase, from the prior fiscal year and includes $566 million in a reserve fund.

Krekorian in a statement thanked the mayor, Councilman Bob Blumenfield -- chair of the Budget Committee -- and the entire Council for completing a budget that "honors the city's priorities, respects our fiscal realities and fully reflects the needs of all our constituents.''

"I was proud to see the Council set aside very real differences to focus on areas of agreement, reflecting the best of consensus building,'' Krekorian said in a statement.

The budget invests in affordable and supportive housing, funding for more personnel -- police, firefighters emergency personnel, unarmed mental health responders and civilian staff -- and makes "needed investments'' in pedestrian, traffic safety and city infrastructure.

The vote instructed the Chief Legislative Analyst's office to draft an ordinance formally adopting the budget, an ordinance the Council will look to adopt next week. Bass will still need to sign the new version of the budget before it becomes official.

Among the significant items in the budget are those addressing the homelessness emergency including $250 million for the mayor's Inside Safe program, with $65.7 million allocated initially and $184.3 million to be released as the funds are expended, and the mayor's office provides biweekly progress reports starting July 1.

Additional funds provide for the acquisition of interim and permanent housing; for substance use disorder treatment beds, funded with revenue received from an opioid settlement.

Key areas of the budget for Inside Safe will allocate $110 million to pay for motel and other interim housing costs; $47 million to acquire motels and hotels to reduce future program costs; $10 million set aside for staff, $62 million for ongoing services such as case management, food, residential staff and support services; and $21 million for the development of transition and permanent housing and the establishment of a 12-month rental assistance program.

The city also expects to generate $672 million from Measure ULA, known by some as the "mansion tax,'' which enacted a 4% tax on properties sold for more than $5 million and a 5.5% tax on properties sold for more than $10 million and went into effect April 1. However, ongoing litigation has caused some concerns in Bass' office about the future of that measure.

The $150 million from Measure ULA will be used to support the city's efforts to address homelessness.

The budget also seeks to restore the Los Angeles Police Department staffing to 9,500 officers, with two full classes of recruits in training and additional funding to return retired police officers to active duty for 12 months, hire additional civilian personnel and increase staffing for 911 dispatch services.

Her spending plan also includes about $1 million to expedite the application process for candidates looking to join the LAPD. The city is also developing an incentive program that will provide bonuses of up to $15,000 for new officers and lateral recruitment.

Bass said that, in addition to bolstering the LAPD's force, her budget also outlines funding to increase hires for the city's fire department.

Her proposal would additionally fund the new Mayor's Office of Community Safety and build out the infrastructure for non-law enforcement responses. It would house the city's Gang Reduction and Youth Development, Summer Night Lights, Crisis Response Team, Crisis and Incident Response Through Community-Led Engagement and the Domestic Abuse Response Team.

The budget would increase funding for GRYD from $28 million to $48 million, as well as provide funding to expand services under the Crisis Response Team and maintain seven teams operating in six regions of the city through CIRCLE, a 24/7 unarmed response program aimed at addressing non-emergency police calls related to homelessness.

DART's funding would increase by nearly $1 million to $3.7 million, which would double the number of DART workers to address 911 calls involving domestic violence.

Bass said she carved out funding to address poverty and income inequality in various ways, such as connecting people to jobs and opportunities and supporting families and children.

The mayor's budget highlights $3 million for LA: Rise, $3 million for Hire LA Youth and funding to continue CleanLA, a program that serves as a pathway to city employment.

Furthermore, the LA's Best afterschool enrichment program would receive nearly $4 million to pay for positions, bus transportation and training; the city would also provide $5 million to support childcare centers and provide $18 million for senior meals.

Bass' proposed budget includes provisions to support small and local businesses, enhancing tourism, expanding and continued the city's al fresco program, as well as investing in the environment through zero-carbon emission goals and green initiatives.

Funds for city infrastructure would also receive a boost as the mayor indicated an additional $28 million to its already required $36 million for sidewalk repairs, and $8 million to improve bus shelters and benches throughout the city.

Under the mayor's proposed budget, Los Angeles Animal Services would also receive an increase in funding to improve volunteer coordination, hire staff and enhance animal health services and adoptions. The department's previous allocation of $26.9 million would increase to $31.7 million -- a boost of $4.8 million.

The L.A. Zoo would receive more funding, with $2.5 million to address facility repairs and $4.1 million for design work on larger capital improvements.

Overall, Bass' proposal projects short-term stability, but at a slower than historical growth rate in the city's tax revenues of only 2.4%. The overall general fund budget will grow by 5.6%, in part due to a $115 million transfer from the reserve fund. Bass' plan also includes reserves of 10.03%, just above the 10% target set in the city's financial policies.

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