Deputy mayor explains Garcetti’s budget on city services

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposed $8.1 billion budget takes only a modest step toward rebuilding city services, Deputy Mayor Rick Cole told the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee today.

Garcetti is using his first budget as mayor to change the conversation from “short-term fixes to long-term fiscal responsibility,” Cole told the panel as two weeks of hearings on the proposal began.

“Five years of steady cutbacks have devastated the city’s capacity to deliver high-quality services” to residents and businesses, Cole said.

Garcetti’s budget includes funding for expanding library hours, hiring more firefighters and code enforcement officers and fixing deteriorated city streets and sidewalks.

However, attempts to make more significant restorations to city services only exacerbated the projected deficit, Cole said.

The current proposal closes a $242 million deficit, enough to “keep us going the way we are,” but “not enough to get us where we want to be,” Cole said.

“Frankly at one point, we were $400 million short,” when desired improvements were considered, Cole said. “We had to gradually peel back some of these things that we wanted to invest in, that we wanted to address” due to “inadequate resources,” Cole said.

Cole said in order for the city to be better run, its outdated technology needs to be upgraded and training programs must be restored for city employees.

Too much time and money are also being spent on workers compensation claims and the contracting process, which can take as long as 432 days to complete, Cole said.

Due to the “broken system,” anyone looking to get anything done within a reasonable amount of time end up having to pull strings with public officials, Cole said.

City leaders typically aim to approve a budget — with revisions from the council — in May. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

The daily budget hearings in City Council are scheduled to continue until May 13.

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