Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

City Budget Likely to Result in “Service Deficit”

Funds to repair sidewalks like this one will be scarce in the new city budget, according to GWNC Budget Representative Jack Humphreville.

Last month, Mayor Karen Bass released her proposed budget for the city of Los Angeles.

“The budget lays out investments to continue urgently housing Angelenos and work to make Los Angeles safer and more livable for all,” according to a statement from the Mayor’s office, adding “This year’s process has uncovered a clear need for a reset of the City’s budgeting process – one that is honest, transparent and squarely focused on serving Angelenos.

Bass’s budget prioritizes funds for homeless programs that bring people inside as well as efforts to keep people from falling into homelessness. The Mayor plans to continue to hire for critical positions including sanitation, street services, police officers, firefighters, and others, while eliminating vacancies that in many cases have been on the books for years, thereby prioritizing actual service delivery over empty desks, according to the Mayor’s office.

We checked in Windsor Square resident Jack Humphreville who serves as the budget representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council for his reaction to the budget.

“Unfortunately, a balanced budget is not in the cards and the Structural Deficit will continue to impact the City’s already limited ability to provide essential services to Angelenos,” wrote Humphreville in his latest LA Watchdog column in CityWatch.

The reason is “budget-busting labor agreements with the cops and civil servants,” he told the Buzz. “They knew these labor agreements were going to cost a lot, reportedly they knew they would blow up the budget. Revenue is down but the city’s projections were overly optimistic and actual revenues are up modestly.”

But Humphreville doesn’t blame the Mayor who he thinks is doing the best job she can with the situation she inherited.

“Garcetti left her a mess,” said Humphreville, referring to Bass’s predecessor former Mayor Eric Garcetti. “He didn’t deal with the large number of vacant positions and he didn’t address the infrastructure issues facing the city so Bass is having to do that to balance the budget. The mayor deserves credit for dealing with the vacant positions. She’s eliminated 2,000 vacant positions and that means forcing city departments to cut their budgets and to be more realistic.”

But it’s also likely to really impact city services like sidewalk and street repairs, explained Humphreville.

“The budget deficit means we will also have a “service deficit.”That means streets, parks, and sidewalks won’t get fixed; there won’t be as many cops or firefighters as there should be; it’s going to be very tough and the average person has no clue about what is going on,” said Humphreville.

There simply isn’t enough money to do everything that needs to be done in the city because most of the revenue is going to fund labor costs, explained Humphreville. He blames the unions and city leaders alike.

So what’s the solution? Humphreville told the Buzz he would like to see multi-year budgeting; the establishment of a real reserve fund, one that can’t be used to balance the budget; the creation of an office of transparency and accountability that would provide oversight; and open and transparent labor negotiations.

Humphreville doesn’t think any of that will happen anytime soon but he continues to closely follow the budget process calling for common sense reforms. Why, we asked?

“I think it’s a civic duty,” he told the Buzz. “I find it intellectually interesting, and I enjoy being a pain in the ass.”

The next step in the budget process is a vote for approval by the City Council which must be done by June 1.

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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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