Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wise Choices for a Safer City

Budget time, grueling though it is, is one of the most concentrated, edifying periods of down-and-dirty work. Even though this is the first year I have not been on the Budget and Finance committee (I changed my legislative priorities when I assumed the Council Presidency), I still had the pleasure of chairing the Council's budget deliberations, which concluded today after an all-day marathon session, in a unanimous "aye" vote for the FY 06-07 Budget.

The $6.7 billion budget, proposed by the Mayor and adopted with amendments by the City Council, addresses the city’s critical issues of housing, traffic and public safety and shores up its finances for the year ahead. My colleagues (with the invaluable initial contribution of the Mayor) have produced a budget that gives us safer streets and safer finances, and I’m proud of our work.

Here are some of its highlights:

Public safety
  • In order to fund the expansion of the force by up to 1,000 additional police officers in the next five years, the council approved the proposal in the mayor’s budget to decrease the trash collection fee subsidy. This should bring in over $20 million in FY 06-07.
  • $251,000 set aside for Neighborhood Prosecutor program around schools
  • Additional funds for gang prevention, intervention and reduction programs
Fiscal safety
  • Council raised the city’s reserve fund to 4.3% ($185.8 million), in an effort to reach the policy goal of 5%; that includes a 25% increase in the Emergency Reserve Fun from 2% to 2.5%


  • Council set aside $1.05 million to maintain the current number of emergency shelter beds, with matching funds to be sought from L.A. County.
  • With an infusion of $12 million in general funds, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund will reach an all-time high of $112 million (including the $50-million permanent supportive housing project)
  • A $957,000 study of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance to guide policy around preserving housing opportunities

  • Council increased by $2.2 million funding for traffic signal installation and left-turn arrow signals
Other significant changes to the budget include: MICLA funding for small capital equipment in Rec & Parks; 27 positions to restore and expand the 50-50 sidewalk Program; allocation funds to support the two-way public testimony program for Van Nuys City Hall; and setting aside $300,000 for a strategic plan for aging services.