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Breaking: Council Approves Electricity Rate Hike Of 4.5 Percent (Updated)

[See a new post about how this is a done deal here].

(Updated at 4:27 p.m. with a quote from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa after the jump): Did the Los Angeles City Council just cry uncle? The body on Wednesday voted to approve a .6-cents-per-kilowatt hour rate hike for electricity customers of the Department of Water and Power.

The council previously voted down any rate hikes after the DWP demanded a steeper increase. The DWP rejected the same, 4.5 percent increase when the council passed it previously. The department retaliated by withholding from the city a much needed $73.5 million to L.A.'s general coffers. Some on the council then hinted that the DWP would in fact get an increase. Wednesday's vote feels like a deal.

"I'd like to thank the members of the City Council who today offered a reasonable compromise which protects ratepayers, the financial health of the Department of Water and Power, and commits the DWP to renewable energy and I urge the members of the [DWP's] commission to adopt this reasonable plan," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stated Wednesday afternoon.

The rate increase which, as the mayor noted, still needs approval from the DWP commission, wouldn't go into effect until July 1. The city missed the window to approve a spring rate hike April 1. Now, do you think the city's main coffers are going to get that $73.5 million? We'd bet on it.

It's a sorely needed Band-Aid as the council searches for any way to avoid making tough decisions on the budget, which is $222 million in the red, with another $485 million in red ink expected July 1. And while most DWP workers are receiving raises, the council on Wednesday refused to stop hiring police, and city libraries are now closed on Sundays, guess who's footing the bill -- indirectly at least -- for the council's spending spree in recent years?

Some ratepayers, including schools and even L.A.'s own parks department, can't be too happy at having to pay more for utilities when the economy remains in the dumps.

-With reporting from Weekly wire services. Got news? Email us.


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