Charlie Beck, L.A. Police Chief, Required to Cut $40 Million to Balance Budget, But Given No Guidance

Today L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will receive amendments made by the City Council to his 2011-12 proposed City budget.

The big issue is more than $40 million that Villaraigosa had wanted to borrow on commercial paper. That debt plan has now been trashed, and the burden has been placed on the L.A. Police Department to come up with $40 million in cuts.

But with no plan and no deadline, this could be a bit too easy to procrastinate on:

Police Chief Charlie Beck had already expected and agreed to make $20 million in cuts, but now that number has doubled. City Council managed to fix half of the hole that the dead $40 million commercial paper left -- the other half is now simply left to the City's biggest department, police, to deal with.

City Council's Budget and Finance Committee head, Bernard Parks, proposed furloughs of LAPD sworn officers one day a month for the fiscal year -- that would have saved half of what the LAPD needs to come up with.

City Council President Eric Garcetti shot down that idea, saying that he doesn't want to "hold furloughs over their heads."

With no mechanism to fall back on, should LAPD concessions not be made by the start of the fiscal year on July 1, things will get pushed back through the year. The problem will simply become harder and harder to solve. And the millions of dollars will still be missing.

This comes at a time when the residents of Los Angeles are not exactly trusting of City Hall and of lame duck Villaraigosa.

The Daily News reports that at a town hall meeting L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa didn't have many reassuring words for the residents of Reseda.

"There's a finite pool of money here," Villaraigosa told the crowd. "Everyone has to shoulder the burden."

Villaraigosa says that everyone needs to shoulder the burden, but his smoke and mirrors budget that is falling on its face doesn't echo that thought.

Mayor Sam asks: "What happened to the pledge for ethics and transparency in your mayoral administration?" L.A. Weekly asked the same question in Broke and Broken.

Among the questionable aspects of his proposed budget: Villaraigosa claimed to take an 11 percent cut to his own office, but the Weekly found his cut was in actuality only 2 percent.

From L.A. Weekly's Broke and Broken:

Villaraigosa recently announced to an audience of cheering, impressed students at Jefferson High School that he is cutting his own office by 11 percent -- and the L.A. media repeated his claim. The Weekly has determined his true office budget cut is about 2 percent and his operation alone will cost taxpayers about $42 million.

Even the City Council added almost $500,000 of cuts to the Mayor Villaraigosa's office -- though not huge in the scheme of things, they called him out, at least a little, on his funny mathematics.

The Weekly questions City Council's transparency also, but now everything has been pushed so far to the limit that the balancing of the City budget relies on things outside the City Council's control: the LAPD.

If things don't seem to be getting dealt with on the part of the LAPD as next year goes by, the City Council may have to step in anyway -- and face an even more difficult situation with less time left to find the millions.

Lame duck Villaraigosa will be gone next term, but the budget he leaves L.A. with is not going to go away. From Broke and Broken:

Los Angeles City Hall is overspending by $52,168 per hour, which translates into a budget deficit, beginning July 1, of $457 million. (That's the mayor's figure. Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller and the council's budget committee say the figure is $336 million.)

Contact Mars Melnicoff at / follow @marsmelnicoff

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