Mayor Eric Garcetti to deliver his 1st State of the City

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Mayor Eric Garcetti will deliver his first State of the City address today, offering a recap of his first nine months in office and likely giving a preview of the upcoming budget season at City Hall.

The mayor’s speech at the California Science Center will come one day after the release of a report that made a series of recommendations for improving what a residents’ panel called a crisis in leadership in a city plagued by continued unemployment, a lack of job growth and chronic budget deficits.

The Los Angeles 2020 Commission, chaired by former U.S. Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor, recommended steps including the creation of an office of transparency and accountability and the establishment of an independent oversight and rate-setting commission for the Department of Water and Power.

The DWP has been a key issue for Garcetti, who vowed to impose greater oversight of the utility, which has been plagued in recent months with a troubled billing system that resulted in some customers receiving exorbitant, inaccurate bills. Customer service call wait times also ballooned as people called in to fix their bills.

The city also has been battling to learn more about the activities of a pair of safety and training trusts that received more than $40 million in ratepayer money from the DWP. The DWP employees’ union has resisted providing the city with details about the trusts’ use of the funding.

The City Council in February confirmed Marcie Edwards, who was Anaheim’s city manager, as the new general manager of the DWP.

In his speech, Garcetti is also likely to discuss the city’s financial situation, with upcoming debate expected at City Hall over the city’s budget. City officials are projecting a $242 million budget deficit for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana released a report last month that recommended the city work to eliminate its structural deficit by 2018, grow its reserves, reduce the city’s vulnerability to lawsuits, hire civilians to take over some work now being performed by sworn police officers and firefighters and use technology to cut costs.

Santana also recommended that city leaders back efforts to negotiate with city employee unions for agreements that would result in no raises for at least three years; change salary levels, including lowering entry-level pay; and employees paying 10 percent of their own health care premiums.

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