Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Tuesday ordered the city administrative officer to draw up a plan that would shut down all city services besides police, fire and revenue-generating operations (the convention center, for example) for two days a week as a result of L.A.'s perilous budget deficit.
"There are no easy decisions or simple ways to solve this budget crisis," Villaraigosa stated. "But as the CEO of this great city, it is my responsibility to make these difficult but necessary decisions to steer the city out of this crisis and onto solid financial ground."
The mayor hopes to initiate the service furlough starting April 12. He also said he would meet with the Executive Employee Relations Committee "to discuss the next steps to replenish the general fund," according to a statement from his office.
In a talk with reporters today the mayor blamed the City Council for the budget mess, saying the body has embraced "the politics of no" in its rejection of Department of Water and Power rate hikes proposed by Villaraigosa that could have helped alleviate the deficit (but which were first spun by the mayor as pro-green measures needed to wean the city off coal-based power).
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"With the Council leadership saying no to my every attempt at compromise, at the DWP board's attempt at compromise, and 'no' to their own outside, independent fiscal review, we've seen the detrimental effects of only saying 'no,' and it is simply not acceptable for the council leadership to continue this practice," the mayor said.
(To be fair, the mayor knew about the looming deficit as far back as 2007 and yet backed a 3,000-plus employee hiring spree, raises for DWP employees and increased pension perks, all the while traveling to San Antonio, Washington, D.C., and Europe and appearing on a soap opera).
Without any rate hikes, the DWP has said it does not have enough surplus cash to give the city a promised $73 million. And that has prompted City Controller Wendy Greuel to declare that the city will run out of money by May 5 and that city employees would have to cease work April 19 because L.A. would not be able to make payroll after that.
"There are no easy decisions or simple ways to solve this budget crisis," Villaraigosa said. "But as the CEO of this great city, it is my responsibility to make these difficult, but necessary decisions to steer the city out of this crisis and onto solid financial ground."