Los Angeles City Council approves budget to fund more fire services, neighborhood prosecutors

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Angelenos can expect to see more neighborhood prosecutors and enhanced fire services under an $8 billion budget tentatively approved by the Los Angeles City Council Wednesday. 

The spending plan will increase the Los Angeles Fire Department's budget by $22 million to pay for firefighters, ambulances and equipment. The additional funds come as the LAFD is working with the RAND Corp. to revise its recruitment process, which was halted after allegations of favoritism and a lack of diversity. 

The City Attorney's Office will also receive funds to hire nine additional prosecutors to deal with medical marijuana clinics and nuisance issues like graffiti. 

"A few years back, we were seriously talking about having a budget shortfall of $1.1 billion. We can now see the light at the end of the rainbow," said Council President Herb Wesson. 

The city council also approved a tentative plan to reduce the city's business tax over a three-year period beginning in January 2016. The size of the Los Angeles Police Department will remain the same. 

"My biggest worry is always to be in a position to provide the services that Angelenos expect us to provide. The one thing that you don't want to do is tell (residents) no, I can't do that," Wesson said. 

That could happen if the city's contract negotiations with City Hall unions go south. Those negotiations are ongoing, and the budget approved Wednesday assumes employees will not see raises. 

"That will have a negative impact on our ability to deliver services to our constituents. Or, on the reserve fund, which is what the city's credit worthiness is largely based on," said Councilman Paul Krekorian, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, of the possibility of having to pay out raises. 

The budget was tentatively approved by the Los Angeles City Council with a 15-0 vote. A second administrative vote will be taken next week and then the budget will be sent to Mayor Eric Garcetti for his signature. 

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