May 22, 2014
City News Service
The Los Angeles City Council signed off this week on a package of revisions to the mayor’s $8.1 billion budget proposal that includes $10 million in additional funding for the fire department. The City Council is expected to vote next week on the revised 2014-15 fiscal year spending plan, which would then be forwarded to the mayor for his signature. Together with Mayor Eric Garcetti's own proposal to hire 140 more firefighters and rebuild the fire department, the extra $10 million approved by council brings the LAFD’s budget to $22 million above the previous year.
The added fire spending, which would be funded using short-term reserves and higher revenue projections, includes $3.65 million to replace fire safety equipment, $3.5 million to hold an extra firefighter recruit training class, and $3.34 million to keep 11 more ambulances on the streets for another six months. Eight city attorneys would be hired for nine months under another change proposed by the council. The added $622,424 would pay salaries for five attorneys to work in the neighborhood prosecutor program and three to handle enforcement of Proposition D, the voter-approved measure restricting the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles.
The council also added $5 million for bulky-item pick up service, $2.1 million to maintaining medians and $1 million for graffiti abatement. The council nixed Garcetti's proposal to hire 50 part-time traffic officers using $915,750. The mayor's office estimated the officers would issue traffic citations that would bring in $3 million in revenue, but the council decided instead to spend $207,207 to hire five full-time officers to provide traffic control at congested intersections.
The city would still be hiring 17 more already budgeted part-time officers to issue citations that, according to council estimates, would bring in $2.29 million for the city. Garcetti’s budget proposal includes $20 million for sidewalk repairs, expanded library hours and spending $14.8 million to keep police ranks at 10,000. His spending plan, released in April, proposes to bridge a projected shortfall of $242 million in fiscal year 2014-15 with the help of better-than-expected returns from taxes; savings on employee pensions and benefits; the elimination of vacant positions that equal 46 full-time jobs; grants and surplus funds; and the city’s reserves.
The budget also assumes city employees will agree to no raises and paying 10 percent of their health-care premiums, but negotiations with city employees are still ongoing.