Better Budget, Better City


If you look back just a few years into our city's history, you'll see that our budget situation wasn't too rosy. When I took office in 2010, the deficit project for this year was over $1 billion. Vital neighborhood services hung in the balance, layoffs loomed and some even warned of the possibility of municipal bankruptcy. 

That's all in the distant past. I'm happy to report that LA's finances are far healthier today than they were then. This week, the City Council gave final approval to the city's $8.6 billion balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 and, just a day later, Mayor Garcetti signed it. Gone are the days of gloom and doom. The outlook for the next few years is good--so good that I'm confident we will close our long-nagging structural deficit in the next three years.

It wasn't easy getting here. We've made painful sacrifices that have been tough on our neighborhoods, impacted neighborhood services and shrunk the city workforce to the smallest it's been since Tom Bradley was mayor. 

As the chair of the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee, I know these realities all too well. But I'm also extremely proud of the work that the mayor and my committee has done to takeour budget situation out of the darkness and bring it into the light.

Photo: CD2

The budget we just passed covers spending for the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2015. Without question, it's the best budget Los Angeles has had in six years. It shows significant revenue growth, adds neighborhood services, and establishes the largest rainy day fund in recent city history. It was shaped by collaboration between the Mayor and the City Council, with invaluable input from city department leaders and staff, neighborhood council members and our labor partners who represent much of the city's workforce. I believe it is a model of smart, responsible budgeting that will protect Los Angeles for years to come.

With this budget, the city increases funding for public safety, including 10 percent more for the Fire Dept. to get more ambulances on the street and to update safety equipment and technology. There will also be five new classes of recruits, which means our communities will be served by 270 new firefighters to keep us safe. The budget funds 150 new squad cars and $4.5 million for LAPD body cameras.

We also allotted money to repair 2,400 miles of LA's streets, to trim 57,000 trees and to fill 350,000 potholes. The budget puts $20 million toward fixing sidewalks, $9 million to clean up bulky items illegally dumped in streets and alleys, and $3.8 million to remove graffiti and beautify medians throughout ourneighborhoods.

The importance of greater affordable housing and social services to our communities also received ample resources. There is now $10 million more for affordable housing, newly created programs to assist homeless veterans, and restored funding for domestic violence shelters, AIDS and disability programs, at-risk youth programs, family help centers, senior and caregiver programs and day laborer sites. 

Our work may be done for this budget season, but there is still much to do before we eliminate our structural deficit. With continued focus and resolve, I'm confident that we'll be able to meet our goal, which will allow us to restore more neighborhood services, and give us the city residents both need and deserve.