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City Council debates spending plan


Proposed $12.8 billion budget

A City Council committee on Wednesday continued its discussion over Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass' proposed $12.8 billion budget for fiscal year 2024-25, which is meant to help ensure fiscal stability through 2029.

The five-member Budget, Innovation and Finance Committee will hear from commissioners and staff members regarding the city's employees' retirement system, fire and police pensions, and the Port of Los Angeles.

On Tuesday, the committee heard from high-ranking city officials, who echoed Bass' message that the proposed budget will serve as a “reset'' for the city. They said it would guide the city toward financial stability amid a lower-than-projected revenue outlook, new labor contract costs and other concerns in the coming years.

While there was agreement among committee members that the spending plan was a step in the right direction, there was worry about how efforts to address a $467 million deficit would impact city services.

Councilman Bob Blumenfield, chair of the committee, opened the meeting by saying that decisions this year are “somewhat limited,'' recognizing that the City Council and Bass made big decisions when they signed off on various labor contracts, providing higher wages and benefits for most city workers, as well as Los Angeles Police Department sworn officers. While defending those “right choices,'' he said the consequences are reflected in the 2024-25 budget.

“I don't want to sugarcoat what we're facing–except for the potential budget we were going to face during COVID-19, which was avoided because of federal funding–this is the worst budget I've had to face in my time as a council member in terms of real reductions.''

The mayor's office and City Administrative Officer Matt Szabo also provided an overview of the budget, which will go to the City Council for revisions and must be adopted before the fiscal year begins July 1.

Representatives for Bass said the spending plan represents a $323.3 million, or 2.46%, decrease compared to the 2023-24 budget of $13.1 billion. They also said the proposal meets the city's policy of maintaining the reserve fund at a 5% minimum.

In the current fiscal year, the city faces a $467 million deficit, composed of a revenue shortfall of $180 million below projected and unexpected spending of about $289 million, mainly from liability payouts related to the LAPD.