LA Mayor Eric Garcetti charts out a $9.86 billion spending plan for the coming year


Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Thursday released a $9.86 billion spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year that includes funding for emergency shelters, traffic-safety programs and street repaving and sidewalk repair projects.

“This years budget is the most stable weve had in years,” he said of the plan.

Garcetti is expected to push for $148 million in funding for a street repaving plan that would affect 2,400 lane miles, as well as a $73 million plan to reconstruct badly damaged roads, to be included in the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

He is also aiming to tackle sidewalk repair requests a bit faster by adding $10 million to the existing $31 million annual funding the city is obligated to spend as part of a legal settlement from disability rights advocates. Buckled sidewalks are also frequently the subject of trip-and-fall litigation.

The mayor also wants to put nearly $38 million into the city budget specifically for Vision Zero traffic-safety improvement projects, which are done on the citys most dangerous streets. Another $52 million is also expected to be proposed for similar projects on other, less historically dangerous streets for a total of about $90 million for traffic safety improvements.

RELATED STORY: LA mayor proposes $91 million for Vision Zero, after program failed to meet its 2017 goal for reducing traffic deaths

The amount Garcetti is proposing this year for Vision Zero, which has proven controversial due to lane-reduction projects that have riled up motorists, is up from the $17 million he proposed last year, and the $27 million ultimately adopted in the city budget. Most if not all of the traffic-safety projects identified are traffic signals, crosswalks, signal time and curb extension projects that do not reduce vehicle lanes.

In the area of public safety funding, Garcetti did not call for any additional police officers, but pointed to available funding that is intended to increase firefighters ranks by at least 48 positions.

Garcetti has also proposed a $20 million plan to purchase temporary emergency shelters, such as large tents and trailers, aimed at giving homeless people a place to stay until more permanent, low-income housing is built.

To encourage each of the 15 City Council members to make use of his or her $1.3 million share of the funds, and to head off resistance to the emergency shelters, Garcetti is offering to assign additional homeless encampment clean crews to their districts. The extra clean-up crews would cost the Sanitation department an additional $17 million, and comes after city officials said there was a backlog of requests for homeless encampment clean-ups.

The shelter strategy, which Garcetti unveiled earlier this week as part of his state-of-the-city address, will be part of a larger $430 million plan that includes Proposition HHH funding that pays for permanent housing construction, and money for outreach teams, shower facilities and other services for homeless individuals.

RELATED STORY: LA mayor unveiling $20 million emergency shelter plan to tackle homelessness crisis

Garcetti added that his budget reflects the citys priorities.

“I always say a budget is more than a numbers document, its a values statement, and most importantly a blueprint for us to achieve our greatest ambitions, from ending homelessness to … building on our work to improve our infrastructure, which for the long haul has been a passion of mine,” he said.

The mayors budget proposal comes as the city continues to face challenges from growing employee pensions costs, which are projected to top $1 billion this year, and a backlog of infrastructure and city service needs.

Another uncertainty facing the city budget are employee labor agreements that will be expiring later this year. Negotiations to renew the agreements could lead to raises, which are not currently accounted for in the mayors budget assumptions. A recently reached one-year agreement with the police officers union is expected to increase costs, including for pensions, by $38 million.

The city is also contending with a structural deficit in its budget, with regular revenues not expected to keep up with anticipated costs in the subsequent two years. Garcettis budget proposes a way to close a $239 million deficit that was projected in the upcoming year, through both reducing expenditures and anticipating higher revenues.

Garcetti had instructed city departments this year to submit proposals that hold the line on general fund spending, and to try to use special funds to pay for any additional spending.

The mayor is relying on estimates that project revenue for the general fund, which makes up $6.17 billion of the overall proposed budget, will increase 5.6 percent in the upcoming year.

This year the city is also expected to get boosts from recently approved sources of tax revenue, including $46 million from the Measure M sales tax, and $67 million from Senate Bill 1, the state gas tax, for which there is

The city is also anticipating some additional revenue from taxes paid by cannabis businesses, which became legal earlier this year, and hotel taxes from the home-sharing company Airbnb.

Garcettis budget proposal will be taken up by the Los Angeles City Council starting April 27. Councilman Paul Krekorian, who chairs the Budget and Finance Committee, praised the inclusion in the budget of “increased funding to combat the homelessness crisis, more resources for critical sidewalk and street repairs and expanded investment in public and traffic safety.”

“My priority during the upcoming budget hearings will be making sure we end up with a fiscally responsible budget that both chips away at the structural deficit and reflects our citys commitment to delivering high-quality neighborhood services,” he said. “We have the ability to keep Los Angeles moving in the right direction.”

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