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Riordan Taps Unorthodox Funding Sources : LAPD: Mayor tells a Granada Hills group he hopes to pay for more police by cutting federally mandated city programs.

December 17, 1993|HUGO MARTIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A day after winning City Council approval for the first phase of his police buildup plan, Mayor Richard Riordan said Thursday he hopes some money for the next step will come by cutting federally mandated programs in the city.

Riordan declined to name specific programs he wants reduced but said federal mandates cost Los Angeles $590 million annually. He added that he met Wednesday with U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer to investigate ways of cutting the cost of such programs.

Typically, such programs include environmental regulations and mandates to improve the infrastructure.

"There are a lot of areas like public works that are unrealistic in dealing with federal mandates," Riordan said.

The mayor's staff is putting together a list of federal mandates that are required of various city departments to identify those that can be cut, a Riordan spokeswoman said.

But many of the city's federally mandated programs come with money, said Bob Hayes, a spokesman for the Public Works Department. "There are a lot of programs that have federal funds attached to them," he said.

The first phase of the Los Angeles Police Department expansion program, known as Project Safety, calls for spending $26 million in the next six months to pay for overtime and 535 new police cars.

Riordan said finding money to pay for the entire program will be difficult considering the city faces a projected $200-million deficit.

"Next year and the years to come will be tough," he said.

Riordan talked up the plan at a breakfast meeting in Granada Hills hosted by a police-affiliated community group that applauded his efforts to expand the Police Department.

"With the mayor, we know we have the right man and we know we will turn this city around," LeRoy Chase, president of the Foothill Advisory Boosters, told the audience of nearly 200 people, including about two dozen police officers.

While officers at the breakfast meeting expressed appreciation for the mayor's efforts, some said they were disappointed that Riordan did not mention a police pay raise.

"It's great, but where is my raise?" said Foothill Division Senior Lead Officer Minor Jimenez, noting that police have gone without a raise or a contract for nearly two years. "It's not very much that we ask for."

Jimenez said new police cars will be welcomed because officers at the Foothill Division often cannot leave the station because their antiquated patrol cars are being repaired. "A lot has to do with the amount of mileage and wear and tear," he said.

In previous comments, Riordan has promised that next year's budget will include money for a police raise.

Foothill Capt. Gabe Arnelas said he understands the frustration of his officers but said he expects the mayor's buildup plan will boost morale at least to some degree.

"For years, they haven't seen the mayor and the chief on the same podium, speaking the same language," he said. "This is a change."

The police buildup plan unanimously approved Wednesday is designed to increase the number of officers on patrol by 50% through the use of overtime and by moving desk officers to the field.

About two-thirds of the nearly $26 million for the police buildup came from savings the Police Department made in the last year when it fell several hundred officers below authorized staffing of 7,900. The balance of the funding came from a statewide half-cent sales tax approved by voters for public safety in November and from city reserve accounts.

But Riordan's ultimate goal is to expand the police force by more than one-third by adding 2,855 officers to the 7,650-officer force over the next five years.

Riordan promised that he would make public his specific funding ideas for the next phase of the buildup by the end of January.

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