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Los Angeles County releases $24 billion budget (Updated)

Los Angeles County's budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year was released Monday.
Los Angeles County's budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year was released Monday.
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Los Angeles County officials unveiled a $24.7 billion budget Monday that, for the first time in five years, does not include any cuts or anticipated shortfalls. 

Just three years ago, the county was facing a $491 million deficit. Over the past five years, county departments have experienced — on average — a 15 percent reduction in their budgets. County employees have also forgone salary and cost-of-living increases. Because of that, the county has not experienced layoffs or furloughs. 

Speaking at a press briefing Monday, County CEO William Fujioka credited the city’s good fiscal health to the longevity of the supervisors. 

“When we have this long-tenured board, you have people who had to live with the consequences of their actions," Fujioka said. "That isn’t happening in Sacramento, when you have people leaving every two years or every four years.” 

Unions represent about 90 percent of the county’s 103,000 employees. Those labor leaders are expected to push for salary increases in an appearance at Tuesday's board meeting. Money for those raises could be available if property and sales tax revenues are higher than projected.

County officials expect property taxes to increase 2.88 percent from last year and sales tax to increase 4.1 percent. Because negotiations are ongoing, the county CEO said he could not comment on what kinds of raises for employees may be possible. 

Among other budget recommendations:

•    107 new positions in the Department of Public Social Services for the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. 

•    $5 million for the Office of Inspector General, which would oversee and monitor the Sheriff’s Department and its jails. 

•    $1 million for the District Attorney’s High-Tech Cyber Crime team. 

“We have a great story to tell," Fujioka said. "It may not be as newsworthy as someone saying ‘bankruptcy or ‘curtailments’ or ‘layoffs,’ but we have a county [that] has weathered a very, very difficult storm.” Fujioka said.

The spending plan, which is about $900 million more than the 2012-13 budget, will be presented Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors. Public hearings will be held beginning May 15.

This story was updated from a previous preview of the budget release. 

Building the Los Angeles County Budget from Los Angeles County Annual Report on Vimeo.