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LA City Council approves Mayor Karen Bass' budget, cutting 1,700 vacant positions

David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles City Council signed off on Mayor Karen Bass’ $12.8-billion budget on Thursday, cutting 1,700 vacant positions and engaging in a back-and-forth over police spending.

On a 12-3 vote, the council approved a spending plan that eliminates the positions at agencies responsible for animal shelters, public works, transportation programs, cultural activities, maintenance of city buildings and many other services. The cuts are not expected to result in layoffs.

The reductions were needed, in large part, to cover a series of pay increases for much of the city workforce — police officers and civilian employees, including gardeners, clerks, mechanics, custodians, librarians and many others, according to the city’s budget analysts. Those raises were negotiated by Bass and the council over the past year with the unions that represent those employees.

“There’s no sugarcoating the reality that we face next year,” said Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, who heads the council’s five-member budget committee. “Services will remain stagnant at best, because we will be operating under a bare-bones budget.”

Councilmembers Nithya Raman, Hugo Soto-Martínez and Eunisses Hernandez — who occupy the left most end of the council — all voted no, voicing dismay over the spending reductions.

Hernandez, who represents part of the Eastside, expressed frustration that about one-fourth of the budget is going toward the Los Angeles Police Department, even as other city agencies are being asked to make do with less. She blamed the new round of cost-cutting on the council’s approval of a four-year package of raises and bonuses for LAPD officers, which is expected to consume an additional $1 billion by 2027.


“I cannot vote for a budget that adds funding to an already overfunded department, while at the same time cutting $2.5 million from after-school programming,” said Hernandez, an advocate for shifting money out of law enforcement and into community services.

Council members did put a stop to some of the reductions proposed by Bass. They preserved about 400 positions that had been targeted for elimination, more than half of them at two agencies: the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Bureau of Street Services, which is responsible for the upkeep of city streets, alleys and sidewalks.

During a flurry of votes on proposed amendments to Bass’ budget, the council also restored some funding for senior meals and took a step toward saving four vacant positions in the fire department.

A second budget vote is scheduled for next week. After that, Bass will have one week to sign or veto the document, which covers the fiscal year that begins on July 1.


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