Politics, government and public life for Southern California

L.A. Mayor’s Race: Greuel presents budget proposals

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Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel Monday presented a series of proposals which she said could reduce the city’s budget deficit through $175 million dollars in savings and new revenue.

“The ideas we discussed today are a blueprint for how we can close our budget gap so we can get back to providing the services Angelenos depend on,” Greuel said as she unveiled her proposal.

But several of her ideas mirrored those presented by her opponent, City Councilman Eric Garcetti. 

For example, Greuel said the city could save $60 million annually by requiring city workers to contribute more to healthcare costs and changing the design of the city's healthcare package. Garcetti’s plan estimates $40 million dollars in similar savings.

Another idea: collect $20 million dollars from parking lot operators who fail to pay a 10% parking tax. The city’s ad hoc Commission on Revenue Efficiency first presented that proposal last year. Garcetti also endorsed it. City administrators have warned that money would be hard to collect.

Greuel unveiled her plan at a campaign event with business leaders at the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles. The head of the Los Angles Area Chamber of Commerce and the president of the Central City Association joined Greuel at the event. CCA chief Carol Schatz said her organization voted to back Greuel last week.

The mayoral hopeful said she could save $40 million dollars by changing investment practices and spending less money on consultants at the city’s three pension plans. She offered few details. An aide suggested the pensions could share consultants.

A spokesman for Garcetti said such changes at the pension boards would not necessarily translate into city general fund savings. “Her plan is fake,” said Garcetti spokesman Jeff Millman.

Greuel also said she would consider increasing the retirement age for current employees. The city’s labor union’s have said they would oppose such a move. Under state law, the city would be required to provide "like" benefits to replace any reduction in benefits.

At least one of Greuel's budget proposal would produce no savings. She wants to shift $30 million dollars in discretionary funding from city council districts to the general fund. Members of the city council now use that money to fund special projects in their district.

Her campaign has  struggled since the March primary election. A Survey USA poll released last week showed Garcetti with 49 percent support, compared to Greuel's 40 percent.

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