Los Angeles workers trimmed an especially voluminous tree in front of an Elysian Valley home Tuesday to mark Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s official signing of the 2013-14 budget, his eight and final budget before he leaves office in less than a month and is replaced by Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti, who said during the mayoral campaign that he would focus on taking care of quality of life issues like paving streets and trimming trees.
Villaraigosa’s signature finalized a $7.7 billion spending plan the city will follow in the coming year. The budget – approved unanimously by the City Council last week – provides for the hiring of new firefighters and additional funding for tree trimming, street paving, graffiti abatement and the purchase of nearly 300 new police cars.
Police ranks will be maintained at a little over 10,000 officers under the budget, which also provides funding to upgrade medical care capabilities – going from “basic” to “advanced” life support – in 25 fire companies, and puts $15 million toward chipping away at police overtime costs.
The additional expenditures were made possible through a surplus of about $119 million in one-time revenue.
A better economic outlook, projected to bring in an additional $111 million in tax revenue, and $51 million in savings from pension reforms helped to close an anticipated $216 million deficit, according the city officials.
The budget also includes a $260 million reserve fund, which makes up 5.25 percent of its total. And it provides for a hiring freeze and for continued labor negotiations to keep down long-term labor costs.
It remains to be seen if labor unions will agree to Villaraigosa’s request that they give back a scheduled 5.5 percent raise in January and pay 10 percent of their health care premiums to help balance the budget. In the event city leaders cannot negotiate those concessions, the budget has set aside $21 million, according to city officials.
Union representatives have said they would not entertain the concessions and that there is no reason to reopen talks until their contracts expires in June 2014.
Chief Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, who advises city leaders on the budget, has said employee concessions will be needed, if not this year, then in future years.
The budget also funds a new economic development department and a consolidated planning and development department, combining offices such as Building and Safety, and Planning.