LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles City Council today tentatively approved a $10.6 billion budget for the coming fiscal year, the largest in the city's history, with council members crediting a strong local economy.
The spending plan marks the first time the city's budget has ever exceeded $10 billion, and City Councilman Paul Krekorian said the document includes the largest reserve fund in city history.
Krekorian said this may have been the first time there weren't any heated discussions among council members about the budget, calling it one of the finest he had seen in eight years.
“A few of us were here, and much of our staff, at a time when the city was literally teetering on the brink of bankruptcy,” Krekorian said. “That's how bad it was, and it's easy to forget that. We have a budget now that meets the priorities that this council has expressed.”
Krekorian, who chairs the council's Budget and Finance Committee, said the city is not out of the woods completely as far as recovering from the economic downturn experienced nationally in 2009.
“We still have a ways to go. There's still a number of our major departments that still have not fully recovered since the great recession,” Krekorian said.
“ ... This is a long way forward from where we were nine or 10 years ago. The city was literally on the brink of bankruptcy, when the city was seriously considering laying off 6,000 employees,” Krekorian said.
Since that time, Krekorian said, the city has eliminated almost the entirety of its structural deficit and now has “resilience” against economic downturns.
About 8 percent of the city's budget is saved in reserves, totaling about $399 million, along with a budget stabilization fund of $106.9 million and an additional $20 million in unappropriated funds. About 20 percent of the city's budget comes from property taxes, a total of more than $2.1 billion.
The spending plan puts more than $457 million toward homeless outreach and services, including syringe-collecting and HIV testing, as well as increased law enforcement at the city's supportive housing complexes and dispatching of two homeless-engagement teams to Skid Row. More than half the funding for the efforts come from the city's Proposition HHH, a bond measure approved by voters in 2016.
About $18 million is designated in the budget for four new A Bridge Home sites scheduled to open within the next fiscal year.
The budget also includes $3 million for the city's Cool Pavement and Trees program, which includes tree trimming and watering services on residential and commercial properties.
Additional items submitted for further consideration included Councilman Gil Cedillo's request to add $11 million to fund 18 additional foot patrol officers to the LAPD.
The City Council will take final action on the budget early next week.
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