The Los Angeles City Council on Monday approved a $7.2 billion budget that delays layoffs but makes nearly $70 million in cuts to services and shrinks the city's workforce by more than 400 positions.
The budget, first proposed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and amended by the council's Budget and Finance Committee, closes a $238 million deficit but leaves next year's budget $199 million in the red.
The spending plan relies on $83 million in one-time revenues and cuts, and includes more than $76 million that still needs to be approved by federal and state governments and might not be available until January or later. The budget increases the city's emergency reserve fund by $7.5 million, bringing it to 4.8 percent of the city's general fund budget, but shy of the city's 5 percent goal.
The council approved the budget on a unanimous vote after an hours-long discussion.
Villaraigosa's original proposed budget called for the elimination of 669 positions, including 231 layoffs. That number was later reduced to 209.
The council, however, approved a plan to delay the layoffs until Jan. 1 after budget officials scraped together roughly $16 million in revenues and found additional cuts to make in city departments.
Councilman Paul Krekorian, who chairs the Budget and Finance Committee and shepherded Villaraigosa's proposed spending plan through more than 40 hours of committee hearings, said the budget was imperfect but "continued progress" toward eliminating the city's structural deficit.
The budget makes cuts across a wide swath of city departments but mainly relies on new revenues to close the deficit. They include $10 million from increases in parking fines, $48.6 million in residual money from the now-defunct Community Redevelopment Agency and $28.5 million in reimbursements from the state for ambulance services provided by the Fire Department.
Krekorian called the budget's revenue projections "sound," despite a warning by the city's top budget official, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, that some of the revenues were not certain and needed to be monitored "very aggressively."
The budget also calls for some one-time fund transfers from special dedicated funds to the city's general fund, which pays for basic city services. The budget would transfer $32.6 million from a special parking fund that is supposed to pay for improvements to parking infrastructure.
The money to delay the layoffs came from a variety of sources, including an additional $5.8 million that became available after the Los Angeles County auditor-controller last week revised upward the amount of property tax revenue that will go to the city.
The council's approved budget included money to restore six part-time ambulances and one fire engine to the embattled Los Angeles Fire Department, which has been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent months over its inaccurate and improperly reported emergency response times.
The council also approved a motion by Councilman Eric Garcetti, who is running for mayor, to use any additional new revenue from ambulance service reimbursements to staff part-time ambulances around the clock. It also called for a five-year plan to completely restore the fire department in order to reduce response times.
The City Attorney's Office took a large hit. Deputy city attorneys would have to take 34 furlough days starting July 1 to save $9.4 million.
The budget also cut funding for the Fire Department to recruit women and minorities.
The council voted to eliminate $21,000 for remote public testimony from San Pedro and Van Nuys during council meetings. Councilman Bernard Parks said the move would be "viewed as a means in which the City Council does not want to hear dissent."
Harbor Area Councilman Joe Buscaino and San Fernando Valley Councilman Richard Alarcon both opposed the move.