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Cities Budgets

With the stock market booming, property values rising and cash registers ringing up healthy sales, the treasuries of many Southern California cities are bursting with cash--and a host of new problems, mostly of the happy variety. Just a few years away from steep budget cuts triggered by the recession of the early 1990s, many cities have almost an embarrassment of riches.
August 20, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
In the midst of this year's mayoral campaign, the union representing most Los Angeles Department of Water and Power employees made city officials an offer they apparently couldn't refuse. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18 would scrap the pay hike its members were due beginning Oct. 1 and instead start in on a new multiyear deal featuring three straight years without cost-of-living increases - the first no-raise years at the utility in two decades. There would be up to a 4% base salary increase in the contract's final year, pension concessions of a sort and a somewhat convoluted claim that DWP workers would for the first time ever contribute toward their healthcare costs.
December 5, 1990
Mayor Tom Bradley and the Los Angeles City Council should get their spending priorities straight before they start scaring the public with talk of reduced police protection (Metro, Nov. 28). In recent years, budgets have been anything but "bare bones." This year is no exception. The City Council made a great show of trimming a measly $10 million from the mayor's proposed spending plan, but still approved a plan to spend $3,671,891,967, an increase of $400 million over last year.
July 28, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Labor negotiations take place behind closed doors, and appropriately so. To reach mutually beneficial results, representatives of both management and employee unions must feel free to put their positions and proposals on the table and to discuss them in confidence. That's as true for labor talks in the public sector, such as those currently underway between the city of Los Angeles and the Department of Water and Power, as for those in private business. But there's a point at which discussions move from being merely quiet to being plain sneaky.
June 9, 1990 | JANE HULSE
Graffiti, which can be the signature of gang members, is costing cities and other agencies in Ventura County a bundle to remove, and some officials say it's only getting worse. This year, the tab for graffiti removal in Ventura, Thousand Oaks and Oxnard is expected to run about $275,000. Smaller cities are straining to absorb the cost in their maintenance budgets. Public agencies also are getting socked with removal costs.
October 7, 2010 | By Nicholas Riccardi, Los Angeles Times
Even though the economy is slowly growing, the housing crunch is continuing to weaken cities' budgets across the country, according to a report released Wednesday. The report from the National League of Cities found that nearly 90% of municipalities were having trouble balancing their books this year. "While the recession has officially ended for the national economy, cities are now in the eye of the storm," said Christopher Hoene, the organization's director of policy and research and a coauthor of the report.
January 24, 1997 | DEBRA CANO
The City Council will hold a workshop Saturday to review the budget and discuss the financial outlook for the coming year. The public session will be from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Gordon Hoyt Conference Center, City Hall West, 201 S. Anaheim Blvd. A review of city accomplishments as well as discussion of council goals and objectives will highlight the workshop. "As we build the budget for next year, we'll get direction from council on priorities," City Manager James D. Ruth said.
June 8, 1989
The Culver City Redevelopment Agency this week adopted a $55-million general fund budget and a $1-million housing budget for fiscal year 1989-90, which begins July 1. The agency's general fund budget includes expenditures for traffic improvements in the Corporate Pointe area, the acquisition of the Studio Drive-In Theatre property and start-up cost for a new City Hall. The budget projects revenues of nearly $83 million, with $28 million to be set aside as a contingency fund and for new projects.
June 9, 1985
I read with dismay and disbelief the words of our mayor, David Sills, (May 20). Sills is quoted as saying, "I'm not particularly concerned or interested in municipal budgets, streets, sewer systems and the police force." These, however, are the very responsibilities that Sills accepted when he was reelected just a year ago. With out city budget increasing so dramatically over the past two years, someone on the Irvine City Council better show an interest. Words of elected officials are sometimes misquoted or taken our of context.
June 20, 1997 | LESLEY WRIGHT
City Council members approved a balanced budget this week and saved a counselor's job at the last minute, but many residents are sure to feel budget cuts totaling about $1.3 million. Gone are several full-time employees, the Fourth of July fireworks, the DARE anti-drug program and a boxing club for underprivileged youths. Some City Hall positions are being downgraded and even the weight of the paper used to print the city's newsletter is being reduced.
April 22, 2013 | Jim Newton
The complaint I hear most often about this race for mayor of Los Angeles is that the candidates, Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilman Eric Garcetti, spend too much time talking in generalities without providing details about what they'd do. But when it comes to the city budget, the two candidates are so lost in the details that they often seem to be missing the big picture. They may get a bit of a break this week with the city's finances. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is expected to release his final budget Monday, and sources say the shortfall it anticipates has shrunk: Once projected at more than $200 million, it's now said to be just over $100 million.
April 4, 2013 | By Gale Holland, Los Angeles Times
Richard Garcia was busy ticketing a Scion for blocking the street sweeper's path when a neighbor broke in with a question. "Are you allowed to paint your own curb red?" Edsel Ortiz said. Of course not, but Ortiz would have to take it up with headquarters. Another neighbor on Mountain View Street in L.A.'s Westlake neighborhood, however, wouldn't let it go. "She said she's the homeowner and we're just renters," said Tony See, dressed in slip-on rubber sandals and shorts, pointing to a driveway flanked by telltale red. "She's a bad neighbor!
April 3, 2013 | By Seema Mehta and Catherine Saillant, Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles mayoral candidates Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti on Wednesday sought to highlight what they say are needed reforms in city government, an apparent response to criticism that they have avoided specifics on solving chronic budget problems. Greuel said she would consider raising the retirement age for current city workers, along with other changes to the city's pension systems. But she said she would seek changes only through collective bargaining, not by forcing new rules on workers.
March 9, 2013 | Steve Lopez
When I scolded deadbeat Angelenos for blowing off Tuesday's election, some of them had just enough energy to return fire. "I chose not to spit into the wind anymore," wrote Lou. "It is not an embarrassment to shun an embarrassment like L.A. 'government' and L.A. politicians," wrote Loren. Just as I was about to scold them all over again, along came Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who reminded us why there's such raging cynicism in Los Angeles. Let's go back to early February, when Villaraigosa endorsed Measure A. That was the proposal for a half-cent sales-tax increase that would have raised about $200 million a year in a city with a projected annual budget shortfall of roughly that very amount for years to come.
January 23, 2013 | By Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times
The administrator credited with steering Santa Ana away from potential bankruptcy has been abruptly fired, exposing a deepening fissure among political leaders in Orange County's second-largest city. City Manager Paul Walters, who had been the city's longtime police chief before being asked to resolve a $35-million budget shortfall, was seen as an ally of Santa Ana's longtime mayor, Miguel Pulido. But Pulido's power in the town has eroded and he is increasing isolated by council colleagues.
October 19, 2012 | By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles' top budget official has asked the City Council to draft two tax measures for the March ballot, saying both are needed to avert cuts to police and fire services. City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said the tax hikes - one on parking revenue, the other on real estate sales - would generate up to $125 million annually for the city budget, which faces a shortfall of $220 million. Without additional money, crime will probably go up, Santana said. "It's impossible for us to move forward and continue to protect public safety from serious reductions without this new revenue source," he said.
April 30, 2012 | Jim Newton
City Councilman Bernard C. Parks likes to describe Los Angeles' budget woes as the consequence of an untreated addiction - the city's habit of adding workers in good times and then being unwilling to let them go in bad times. The result is ever-increasing personnel costs and ballooning pension and healthcare obligations for retired city workers. In recent years, Parks, a former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, has become increasingly strident in his insistence that the city must mend its ways, and his message has made him plenty of enemies.
April 16, 2012 | Jim Newton
As Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa works to bring the city's finances under control, he's made some laudable moves, but his actions today are constrained by two decisions from earlier in his tenure that limit his options. The first came in late 2007, when the mayor and other city leaders approved a five-year package with the coalition of unions representing most civilian city workers that promised 5% raises each year. The second was in response to the economic downturn that blew up the assumption that the city could afford those raises.
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