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LA City Council approves $7.2 billion budget (updated)

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The L.A. city budget includes increases in parking fines and the elimination of funds that allow Angelenos to remotely testify before the L.A. City Council.

A $7.2 billion budget that increases parking fines and eliminates the funds that allow Angelenos to remotely testify was unanimously approved today by the Los Angeles City Council.

Tickets for all parking fines will increase by $5, while fines related to handicap parking will increase $10. Those tickets are expected to generate an additional $2.4 million for the city. 

When Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa introduced the budget in April, he warned that 231 employees would be laid off. However, an unexpected influx of property taxes and funds found by the chief legislative analyst means those layoffs will be pushed back until at least Jan. 1, 2013. 

The balanced budget also eliminates a $238 million deficit.

“The real budget solution that the city faces is to get businesses back in the city and to get people back to work and when those things happen, we’ll have a much easier time delivering services to our constituents,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee. 

Reimbursements from emergency medical services and funds from the Community Redevelopment Agency are included in the budget.

 “I think that the projections that we’ve made are sound,” Krekorian said. “They’ve certainly been vetted and whether they prove to be correct, time will tell but we’ve done the best that we can.”

The council also voted to eliminate $279,000 the mayor’s office had set aside for firefighter recruitment efforts. The Los Angeles Fire Department will hire 150 new firefighters in fiscal year 2013-14. The department has identified 17,000 people who are interested in joining the department. 

Fire Chief Brian Cummings testified that recruitment efforts should focus on making the Los Angeles Fire Department more diverse. 

“Without targeted recruitment, we do not get the diversity that we need in our applicant pool,” Cummings said.

“If we do nothing, looking at the numbers, the raw numbers that we have right now, we know we will be seriously challenged with diversity issues as we go through the hiring process.”

If that proves to be true, money could be added back into the budget later on in the fiscal year, Krekorian said.

“Rather than setting aside that quarter of a million dollars now, let’s take a look to see as that hiring process begins whether that large backlog pool of applicants will allow them to achieve the diversity goals that they should have,” he said. 

Under this budget, setups in Van Nuys and San Pedro that allow Angelenos to remotely testify before the Los Angeles City Council will be defunded. 

The budget was approved after about five and a half hours of discussion. The Budget and Finance Committee met for more than 40 hours in the last month to comb through Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s spending plan. The fiscal year will begin on July 1.

This post has been updated.

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