So the City of Los Angeles has a budget. But what does that mean to us in the NoHo Arts District?
North Hollywood Councilman Paul Krekorian does a fine job of explaining the budget process and how the funds are allocated.
Each spring, the City of Los Angeles discusses, debates and adopts a budget for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1. Although it can seem like an esoteric exercise, it isn’t. LA’s budget matters to you. The city’s budget is one of the most tangible expressions of public policy there is. Just as with your personal finances, whether you are saving money for a big purchase or paying monthly bills, how you spend your money reflects your overall life goals. In a very similar way, the City Council makes decisions about LA’s budget based on what we hope to accomplish during the next fiscal year.
The budget process is also always a collaboration. By law, the Mayor must make his proposal by April 20, just months before the next fiscal year begins. This comes after months of input from Neighborhood Councils, city departments and other local leaders. In fact, the budget process begins 11 months before the start of the fiscal year, when the Mayor sends a budget policy letter to city departments, bureaus and other offices.
After the Mayor finally releases his proposal, the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee, which I chair, spends about three weeks going over every item with a fine tooth comb and getting more input from the public. This year, we heard 173 comments during our 40 hours of budget meetings, discussed the budget with 44 departments and heard presentations from the city’s labor representatives and the Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates. At the meetings, we made changes to the budget and then took it to the full City Council for a vote. We adopted it unanimously last week, assembled all the changes and amendments into a final document this week and voted to send it back to the Mayor for his signature.
Some budgets are better than others. State law requires the city to achieve a balanced budget during its budget process, but even then, some balanced budgets are better than others. They all depend greatly on the regional economic climate and the city’s current needs. For example, in 2008 when the global recession was wreaking havoc on our national economy, our local economy had plummeted, while city budget officials projected a billion dollar deficit in the coming years. One former LA mayor even opined in the Wall Street Journal that the city would very likely go bankrupt before 2014.
Needless to say, that doomsday scenario never came to pass, largely because of responsible, fiscally sound budgeting by the City Council and the sacrifices of our public workforce. Our neighborhoods suffered dramatic cuts to city-provided services, but those very lean years allowed us to right LA’s financial ship, slowly but surely. It also helped that our city’s economic fortunes have turned around considerably. Last year, LA welcomed more than 19,000 new jobs and more than 36,000 more residents found employment. Tourism continues to skyrocket, with 45.5 million visitors in 2015, and hotel occupancy is at an all-time high. This is a small window into what continues to be an economic upswing in our city, which is reflected in this year’s budget.
This year is my fifth straight leading the Budget and Finance Committee and I’m proud to say that our city’s budget is the healthiest it’s been in many years.
Our revenues continue to grow, putting the overall budget at $8.76 billion, two percent higher than last year. And at $334 million, we have the largest Reserve Fund in the city’s history, along with another $93.14 million in the rainy day fund. While maintaining our responsible posture, we have also started the much-needed process of restoring neighborhood services and even made substantial funding commitments to infrastructure and programs that will improve the lives of Angelenos today and into the future.
I hope you enjoy this special budget-focused edition of Our Valley News. In it, we’ll try to break down some of the more important things in the budget, things that will make a difference for you and your community. If you have questions or comments about any aspect of the budget for the coming fiscal year, please contact me: email@example.com or (213) 473-7002.
Very truly yours,
Better Quality of Life
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