LA is considering eliminating up to 2,000 vacant positions as the city’s budget outlook worsens

(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

LA is considering eliminating up to 2,000 vacant positions as the city’s budget outlook worsens

LA Politics, California Politics, Homepage News

David Zahniser

March 20, 2024

Faced with a steadily deteriorating financial picture, Los Angeles officials are moving forward with a plan to eliminate up to 2,000 vacant positions, or about 5% of jobs.

the city’s total workforce


To balance the city budget, Mayor Karen Bass and the City Council will have to consider eliminating these unfilled positions from the books, while also raising city rates, delaying public works projects and cutting back on consulting work, said City Manager Matt Szabo in a speech. 136-page report released Monday.

While a list of targeted jobs is still being developed, it could include open positions in police and fire departments, the Bureau of Sanitation and agencies responsible for parks, recreation programs and transportation.

To close the short-term financial gap, the council will also likely have to rely on city reserve funds, which will leave fewer dollars if a crisis strikes, Szabo said.

The report on the city’s bleak financial outlook comes about a month before Bass is set to release its 2024 budget.


25. While she finalizes that spending plan, she and her team will have to decide whether to ask for another $250 million for Inside Safe, her program to move Angelenos in from street camps.

LA officials had hoped to fill vacant jobs in the city. The new plan? Eliminate them

The mayor must also determine whether she will continue to focus on expanding the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department, and if so, by how much. Although she pushed last year for the LAPD to grow to 9,500 officers, the department has continued to shrink and now has 8,866 officers.


according to an update to her appointees to the police commission.

Council Member Eunisses Hernandez, who represents part of the Eastside, expressed alarm at the idea of ​​eliminating so many unfilled positions

To declare such a move would harm critical city services

. The council, she said, should take another look at areas where the city has “overinvested,” such as police overtime, police staffing and liability costs incurred by the LAPD.

If police spending were reduced, city leaders could reduce the time it takes to patch sidewalks, prune trees and fix broken lights, Hernandez said.

“When my community thinks about public safety, it’s like the lights work so we can walk on the sidewalk? Isn’t the sidewalk broken so our elderly don’t trip and fall? Is there no light because the trees aren’t pruned ?” in 17 years?” she said.

Bass did not rule out the idea of ​​cutting the 2,000 jobs, saying through a spokesperson that “some of these positions have been vacant for several years.” Zach Seidl, a spokesman for the mayor, said any reductions in vacancies will not affect hiring for public safety and public health positions, such as police officers, firefighters, garbage truck drivers and sanitation workers. “This process will involve difficult decisions, but the city will continue to provide needed services to Angelenos,” he said. Bass’ team did not immediately answer questions from The Times about the budget. But

Councilor Bob Blumenfield was open to the idea of ​​eliminating at least some vacant positions, saying there would be no immediate impact on public services.

“When you’re in a hole, the first step to getting out is always to stop digging,” he said in a statement.

Blumenfield said state and federal governments are no longer providing as much financial assistance to cities as they did during the pandemic. He also pinned some of the city’s budget woes on inflation, saying city costs had risen and “salary increases were needed.”

Szabo provided additional details in his report, saying the city has overspent by $288 million so far this budget year, with police and fire departments accounting for about half of the overruns. Some of that overspending stems from a package of police raises and retention bonuses approved by the mayor and city council last year.

The Union contract would increase the LAPD budget by nearly $400 million by 2027, the report says

Complicating matters further, the city is seeing lower-than-expected revenues in a number of categories, including hotel and business taxes. Documentary transfer taxes, which are derived from real estate sales, are 25% below original budget projections, Szabo said.

“We are seeing the effects of inflation on consumer behavior and high interest rates on the housing market,” he said.

If these numbers don’t improve, the city could face a $475 million deficit for this budget year, which ends June 30. That shortfall does not include the additional costs expected from a package of increases negotiated with members of the Coalition of LA City Unions. , which amounts to 24,000 employees, a third of whom work part-time.

Service Employees International Union Local 721, the largest of the coalition unions, said in a statement Tuesday that it is “encouraging” that Szabo is considering increasing compensation and limiting contracts for outside services. However, the group expressed concerns about job cuts in the city.

[Eliminating] “Up to 2,000 vacant positions in the city is not a viable long-term solution when the Olympics are just years away, a once-in-a-generation event that will put enormous pressure on frontline services in Los Angeles and beyond,” says David Green, president and executive director of SEIU Local 721.

The cuts to vacant positions would have no impact

the city’s three “own” departments: the Department of Water and Power, the Port of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles World Airports, which operate LAX.

They which

operate separately from the general city budget.

Hernandez, the Eastside council member, said the city still hasn’t recovered from job cuts approved 15 years ago during a budget crisis caused by the Great Recession. At the time, the city cut thousands of civilian jobs, including 2,400 through early retirement, while increasing the number of police officers.

The city should take a different approach this time, Hernandez said.

“I think we’re at a point in the budget now where it’s red alert time,” she said. “Drastic decisions have to be made.”

Times staff writer Libor Jany contributed to this report.


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