LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a $9.2 billion fiscal 2018 budget Thursday that saw few changes from the one he proposed a month ago.
Voter approvals of tax increases for transportation projects and homeless programs enabled the mayor to increase spending in these key areas, he said.
The budget allocates $180 million toward housing the homeless and clean-up services. More than $89 million of that total comes from the $1.2 billion housing bond approved by voters in November. The mayor says the budget will triple supportive housing services to increase help to the estimated 40,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County.
In an emotional moment during Garcetti’s State of the City speech last month, he called tackling homelessness “the moral issue of our time.”
“This budget isn’t a spending plan, it is an expression of our values,” Garcetti, a Democrat, said at the budget signing.
The budget directs $67 million toward street repairs and $27 million toward the mayor’s Vision Zero initiative to improve traffic safety after the number of traffic accidents has accelerated over the past year. Funding in those programs gets a boost from Measure M, a measure approved by voters in November to provide $120 million to build out the county's rail system and fund local street repairs. The city also will receive funding from the $52 billion transportation package passed by the state legislature this year.
Councilwoman Nury Martinez, D-Van Nuys, said the spending plan hits a broad base of issues from a program to alleviate human trafficking in the San Fernando Valley she represents to more money for the city’s street cleaning programs.
It strikes a balance between prioritizing everyday neighborhood needs with bold citywide initiatives, said Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson Jr., D-Koreatown.
The mayor’s budget closed a $263 million shortfall in the current year with $103 million in spending reductions achieved by leaving city employee positions vacant. The budget also anticipates $160 million in increased revenues.
City leaders will still face a structural deficit until fiscal 2021-22 when revenues are expected to catch up with expenditures, according to a budget report from Richard Llewellyn Jr., interm city administrative officer.
The report also highlights the growing pension burden; pensions already make up nearly 20% of the city's budget. That picture could get more dire as the two city employee pension boards are expected to meet this summer to discuss reducing their investment return assumptions.
The budget does not account for the potential loss of federal funding from federal budget reductions.