Los Angeles Forecast: More Jobs, Less Revenue

Unemployment should drop, but so will funds, says controller.

By Christina Villacorte, City News Service

In an economic forecast released yesterday, Los Angeles’ chief accountant predicted the unemployment rate would drop slightly in the next fiscal year — but so would city revenues.

“I’m pleased that our local unemployment rate is projected to drop from 12.4 percent to 11.7 percent; however, there are still far too many Angelenos out of work and we project that the city’s economic growth will be slow and sluggish in the coming year,” City Controller Wendy Greuel said.

She estimated the city would receive $6.34 billion in revenue during the fiscal year 2010-2011, which begins July 1 — which is $130 million less than what the city expects to receive in the current fiscal year.

The city’s general fund, which pays for basic services such as police and libraries, is expected to take in $4.25 billion in revenue, according to the economic forecast, representing a decrease of $126 million since 2006-07.

“The mayor and City Council cannot — and should not — count on an increase in tax revenue to help balance the city’s massive budget deficit for next year,” Greuel said.

“While we anticipate tax revenue for the current year to be dramatically lower in almost every category, we project that four of the seven tax revenue streams will actually increase next year,” she said.

“Unfortunately, the anticipated decrease in property tax will outweigh any other revenue increase.”

Councilwoman Jan Perry said the forecast will prompt her colleagues to draft another austerity budget for the next fiscal year.

“The expectation that I think we take as a group is probably the most conservative, so that as we plan going forward, we (make) assumptions that we are still under the most onerous circumstances,” she told City News Service.

The council recently rejected Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s plan to lease several of the city’s parking garages for the next 50 years to create a new revenue source. Perry said other alternatives will have to be considered.

When asked whether those alternatives would include additional layoffs, she replied, “Everything, everything is on the table.”

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March 3, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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