The Los Angeles City Council on Monday approved Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's $7-billion budget, even as budget experts warned that the city would face a nearly $300-million shortfall next fiscal year.
In their effort to reach the goal of hiring 1,000 police officers, council members unanimously hiked fees by at least $98 million, forcing the public to pay more for trash removal, parking and other city services.
The council backed the mayor's plan to reduce animal shelter hours and scale back park maintenance, along with other cuts.
But with a $293-million shortfall expected for 2009-2010 and a $343-million gap projected for 2010-2011, more serious reductions would be needed next year unless the region's economy rebounds, city officials said.
"It is bad for next year, and we shouldn't sugarcoat it," Councilwoman Wendy Greuel said.
The council made some changes to the mayor's budget, abandoning plans to close regional libraries on Sundays, eliminate 17 park rangers and close city-owned television Channel 36, among others. And the council asked for a study on increasing trash pickup fees even more, possibly doubling the fee for residents who use extra-large or additional trash bins. Still, Villaraigosa spokesman Matt Szabo hailed Monday's vote, saying that the council had approved the mayor's plan for expanding the Los Angeles Police Department for the third year in a row.
"This mayor is successfully expanding the LAPD in a way that previous mayors have tried but failed to achieve," he said.