21 Apr Ofer Eitan Review: Your Guide To The Massive Cuts Proposed For The LA City Bud
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has released his proposed budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, which begins on July 1. The city is facing a massive loss of tax revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic, causing the mayor to declare “a state of fiscal emergency as part of the 2020-2021 budget.”
Garcetti had already signaled that there will be furloughs for the city’s civilian workforce. The mayor estimated city workers are expected to forego about 10% of their salaries. The city’s hiring freeze is also continuing.
In a briefing this morning, city staff said the mayor has broad powers to order furloughs in an emergency like this, but they’d rather work with unions. Corral Itzcalli with SEIU Local 721, which represents the largest chunk of civilian public workers in town, said the city should find other solutions instead of furloughs.
“We want to work with city officials,” Itzcalli said. “We want to figure out where to make adjustments. But we… cannot call these men and women heroes one day, and then turn around and attempt to balance the budget on their backs. That’s just simply unfair.”
The furloughs exclude sworn members of the LAPD and the LAFD. The budget for those departments is funded to “maintain the same levels of service.”
We are reading the full 511-page proposal now and will be reporting out those proposed cuts all day and bringing you the details here.
WE ARE LOOKING INTO WHAT’S HAPPENING TO THESE KEY CITY SERVICES
WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW
City Controller Ron Galperin released a staggering revised estimate for city revenues that forecast:
- a $231 million revenue shortfall for this fiscal year, which ends in June
- up to $598 million next year, which begins July 1
On Sunday, Garcetti said in his State of the City speech he had already moved to:
- borrow $70 million from city special funds and reserve fund
- furlough all civilian employees for 26 days, the equivalent of a 10% pay cut
- make significant cuts to many city departments, which “will have to operate at sharply reduced strength”
In the current fiscal year, the city has so far spent almost $58 million in emergency funds to address COVID-19, including expanding homeless shelters, getting some people into hotels and setting up testing sites across the city.
City officials hope this spending will be reimbursed by the federal government via the CARES Act, but for now it also adds to the city’s budget challenge along with lost revenues.
All told for this fiscal year, which closes at the end of June, the city found $194 million in savings.
The proposed budget the Mayor just released includes $230 million in hard cuts to department budgets for the next fiscal year. Some examples:
- Street services will be reduced 20% — most of that will come from not filling open positions and not replacing employees who leave (that’s attrition)
- Infrastructure spending has a 10% reduction overall
- 311 wait times may go up because those operators are subject to furlough
Sanitation workers are so vital to Los Angeles healthy they won’t be forced to take days off like most other civilian city employees. They pick up garbage in neighborhoods, clean up around homeless encampments and run the wastewater treatment system,
They are essential workers who keep residents from contracting the coronavirus through an excess of trash piling up on the street, and who clean-up sewage overflowing from pipes and treatment plants, all while wearing protective gear so they don’t get exposed to the virus themselves.
Some public works budget cuts will slow construction projects, graffiti abatement, replacing broken concrete streets, repaving failed asphalt streets, tree trimming, and some sidewalk repairs.
People who call 311 for services such as pothole repairs and large item disposal will see longer wait times, because some of the call center employees will also be reduced due to furloughs.
Of those services that are being reduced, one-time construction projects will be the last to be restored, after paying back what was taken from reserves and lifting furloughs.
— Sharon McNary
The expansion of L.A.’s urban tree canopy is so important for our climate future that last year in L.A.’s Green New Deal, a promise was made to plant as many as 90,000 trees across the city in just two years.
But on Sunday, during his State of the City address, Mayor Garcetti said:
“We’ll have less to spend on … caring for our urban forest.”
According to the Mayor’s office, they scaled back the urban forestry budget as part of a broader 20% reduction to Street Services, which is within the Department of Public Works.
That reduction comes in the form of seven positions — including Tree Surgeon and Equipment Operator — that’ll go unfilled. They’ll save more money as they hold back from filling any jobs within that department that open up in the foreseeable future.
You may have to wait longer for trees in your neighborhood to be tended to.
As for the 90,000 trees supposed to be planted by some time in 2021? It’s unclear.
When asked to provide more detailed information about that program, as well as the broader services, the Department of Public Works referred LAist to the Mayor’s Office, stating that they wouldn’t have anything to add until the City Council had a chance to look at the proposed budget.
— Jacob Margolis
Another program facing reduced funding is Vision Zero, the street safety initiative launched by Mayor Garcetti in 2015 to eliminate traffic deaths, which many city leaders and community advocates have described as an epidemic in recent years.
The program identifies streets and intersections where pedestrians are seriously injured…