Villaraigosa's Los Angeles budget includes furloughs, but no layoffs

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Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa speaks at the launch of the unaffiliated political organization known as No Labels December 13, 2010, at Columbia University in New York City. Villaraigosa delivers his annual State of the City speech today.

Los Angeles city employees would have to take over a month of furlough days in the next fiscal year under a $6.9 billion budget proposed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today, but many workers could avoid furloughs by agreeing to defer pay raises and increase health-care contributions.

In an effort to close a $457.5 million deficit, the mayor is calling for 26 furlough days for city workers who will not get cost-of-living raises as part of their contracts, and 36 furloughs days for employees scheduled to get raises.

Most of the latter group are part of the Coalition of City Unions, which worked out a tentative deal with the city in March to avoid furloughs. Under the deal, coalition members, who account for about 60 percent of city workers, would begin contributing 4 percent of their salaries to retirement health care and defer their cost of living raises until the end of their contracts in 2014.

In exchange the city would not require them to take furlough days.

Union members are voting on the agreement now. The coalition is expected to release the tally April 26.

Villaraigosa unveiled his proposed 2011-12 budget at the Central Library, highlighting provisions of his spending proposal that would add parks and recreation facilities and restore library hours, which were cut in recent months due to the city's financial troubles.

"This budget reflects my steadfast commitment to making Los Angeles a city where neighborhoods are safe, parks and libraries are open, streets are paved, and there is a healthy reserve fund that ensures the city is financially stable for generations to come," the mayor said. "In order to preserve these services and priorities, this budget makes long-term structural changes to move Los Angeles towards a fiscally sound and sustainable future."

The budget proposal includes 735 miles of street resurfacing, repair of 300,000 potholes and replacement of the city's street-lighting system with more efficient light-emitting diode technology.

Villaraigosa's proposed spending plan would maintain the Los Angeles Police Department's level of 9,963 officers, even though the department itself would take a $100 million budget cut – including an $80 million reduction in overtime and $20 million from its salary account.

The mayor also proposed a redeployment plan for the Los Angeles Fire Department that aims to save money by matching the department's response focus to the city's needs, mostly ambulance calls.

Villaraigosa has trimmed nearly $1 billion in spending from the city's budget over the past few years and eliminated about 4,000 mostly unfilled city positions, according to the mayor's office.

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