The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution demanding that the Department of Water and Power hand over $73 million it had promised to transfer to the city's general fund before reneging as a result of the council's rejection of electricity rate hikes for DWP customers.

The move doesn't appear, however, to be an order: The DWP seems to be standing by its refusal to transfer the cash, arguing that it could not make a “declaration of surplus” that would allow it to give City Hall any excess money.

The council on Tuesday grilled DWP interim director S. David Freeman about the money.

The department threatened to withhold the payment if the council didn't approve electricity hikes touted by the mayor as a “carbon surcharge” that would wean the city off coal power. After the DWP board defied the council's own modest hike with a larger one, the council voted down any hike altogether.

The city is facing a nearly $700 million deficit in July, and the City Controller on Monday said L.A. would run out of cash by May 5 unless it gets the DWP infusion. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Tuesday said he was calling for the city administrative officer to draw up plans for the city to shut down all non-public-safety and unprofitable operations two days a week, although whether that's even possible give union contracts is a separate question.

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

LA Weekly