Looks like it won't be a blue Christmas for more than 90 City of L.A. workers after all.
The Los Angeles Police Department and city Personnel Department have identified enough money to keep 96 employees in their jobs through the end of next June, members of the City Council Budget and Finance Committee were told Thursday.
By the end of this year, 93 LAPD clerks and three employees with the Personnel Department were to be laid off. The reductions were part of a budget plan approved by the City Council. Appearing before the committee, police and personnel representatives testified they had found the $3 million needed to keep the employees.
Councilman Paul Koretz voiced his opposition to the layoffs, noting that a $3 million loss would be worth it to keep people in their jobs.
“The difference that $3 million will make, I think, is insignificant enough in terms of the morale difference of laying people off when you don’t have to," Koretz said. "I would think we’d be better off being $3 million shorter and not having to do layoffs during this period."
The city’s top budget official, Miguel Santana, argued in favor of moving ahead with the layoffs. He noted that the city has not yet received $55 million in anticipated revenues, including a $23 million reimbursement from the federal government for ambulance services. He also noted that the city’s bond rating could be negatively impacted if elected officials don’t stick to their budget plan.
“You know, this is a complicated relationship we have with them, but the question that they ask first and foremost is: are you implementing the plan that you adopted?” Santana told the committee.
Civilian support staff from LAPD filled the committee room at City Hall during the afternoon meeting. They testified against the layoffs, noting that when a clerk leaves the department, a sworn officer has to step in to pick up the slack.
Testifying before the committee, LAPD clerk Linda Ramirez said layoffs “would cripple service to the police department and will actually drive up costs. Clerk typists, senior clerk typists and secretaries who are targeted for layoffs are valued employees at the very heart of work performed at LAPD."
Councilman Paul Krekorian, chair of Budget and Finance, also made a pitch for the March ballot measure that proposes to increase the city’s sales tax by half a percent. The tax hike is expected generate $220 million and could help restore basic city services, he said.
“Nobody should be under any misapprehension that somehow money is just being found under the cushions of the sofa," Krekorian said. "The fact is these savings are coming at a cost to services to the people of Los Angeles."
The full Los Angeles City Council will review the layoff plan next week before adjourning for winter recess.