Politics

Los Angeles city leaders divided over how to address widening budget deficit

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.
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.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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The Los Angeles City Council has scheduled what’s expected to be a heated debate Wednesday over the city’s deteriorating finances.

With tax revenues still flat and health care and pension costs soaring, L.A. faces a projected budget deficit of $350 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

But even before city leaders address it, they face a deficit of up to $60 million in the current fiscal year.

The mayor and city council had counted on $53 million from privatizing nine city-owned parking structures. The council’s budget committee chairman Bernard Parks says that deal’s dead, and it’s time to freeze police hiring.

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his allies say not so fast. They argue the city can still find a private operator that would provide substantial revenue.

Either way, the mayor’s vowed to protect police hiring, while threatening layoffs and furloughs in other departments.

Under pressure from the city’s powerful labor unions, other city council members have vowed to prevent employee cutbacks – even as the city administrative officer has said that’s nearly unavoidable.