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Los Angeles, California

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Los Angeles is a city in California with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621. It is the most populous city in California and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City, on a land area of 468.67 square miles (1,213.8 km2), and is located in the southern region of the state. It is the focal point of the larger Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside combined statistical area, which contains nearly 17.8 million people and which is one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world and the second largest in the United States. Los Angeles is also the seat of Los Angeles County, the most populated and one of the most multicultural counties[8] in the United States, while the entire Los Angeles area itself is recognized and regarded as the most diverse metropolitan area in the United States. Antonio Villaraigosa is the city's mayor.

Budget

The city's FY 2010-2011 budget closed a $492 million gap in the general fund through a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts. 2,400 city positions were eliminated, and $54 million was cut from fire departments, and $100 million was cut from police departments. It totaled $6.7 billion. The city's financial policies require that at least 2.75% of the general fund budget be allocated to the Emergency Fund.[1][2]

Los Angeles' fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30 of the next year. The budget system includes a process of budget formulation, budget adoption, budgetary control, and cost control.[2]

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is postponing at least $100 million in personnel costs until after he leaves office. Villaraigosa has delayed paying for such obligations as police overtime, unused sick time, contractually agreed-upon wage hikes and an early retirement program that gave 2,400 employees full pensions five years ahead of schedule. The next mayor, and possibly the one after that, will inherit the tab.[3]

Audit

A recent audit revealed that former City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo failed to investigate fraud or collect money the city was owed, cost the city $3 million.[4]

Expensive water

Los Angeles Controller Laura Chick found in a March 2009 audit that the city spends $189,000/year on bottled water. In 2006, Villaraigosa told employees to buy their own; at that time, employees were spending $89,000/year.[5]

Public employees

Elected officials

Los Angeles is governed by three elected city officers, including a mayor, and a city council. The Mayor, City Controller, and City Attorney are elected by voters every four years. The Mayor submits proposals and recommendations to the Council, enforces city ordinances, and approves or vetoes Council ordinances.[6]

Name Position
Antonio Villaraigosa Mayor
Wendy Greuel City Controller
Carmen Trutanich City Attorney

Fifteen City Council members are elected to four year terms, for a maximum of two terms.[6]

Name District
Ed Reyes 1
Paul Krekorian 2
Dennis P. Zine 3
Tom LaBonge 4
Paul Koretz 5
Tony Cardenas 6
Richard Alarcon 7
Bernard Parks 8
Jan Perry 9
Herb J. Wesson, Jr. 10
Bill Rosendahl 11
Mitchell Englander 12
Eric Garcetti 13
Jose Huizar 14
Janice Hahn 15

Administrative officials

A full city organizational chart can be found here. A contact list for administrative departments and officials can be found here.

Public employee salaries

See also: Los Angeles employee salaries

A full list of city employee salaries is provided by the City Controller's Office, and can be found here.

Elected officials' salaries are as follows:[7]

Position Salary
Mayor $232,425.72
City Controller $196,667.94
City Attorney $214,546.96
City Council Member $178,789.18

Public pensions

See also: California public pensions

According to a 2010 report published at Northwestern University, Los Angeles is one of the ten municipalities with the largest amount of unfunded pension liabilities. Nationwide there is $574 billion in unfunded pension liabilities for local pension plans, and this is in addition to the $3 trillion in debt facing state-sponsored pension plans.[8] The report states that the pension plans could be out of money as early at 2025.[8]

During a budget discussion Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa raised the possibility of calling on city unions for more pension reforms. This came a year after praising union officials for willingness to pay more for retirement benefits.[9]

Municipality
(number of plans)
Liabilities, Stated Basis, June ’09 ($B) Liabilities (ABO), Treasury Rate Net Pension Assets ($B) Unfunded Liability ($B) Unfunded Liability / Revenue Unfunded Liability per Household ($)
Los Angeles (3) 34.6 49.3 23.2 26.1 378% 18,193

Reform

In March, 2011, voters approved ballot Measure G, a pension reform plan that will reduce city costs from the pension and healthcare plans of newly hired Fire, Police, and Harbor employees. With the measure's passage, the average pension and health cost to the city for each new hire is expected to fall from $15,000 to $12,000 annually.[10]

Nearly 44 percent of voters surveyed Nov. 6 back former Mayor Riordan's plan to transfer city workers to a 401(k)-style plan. Forty-five percent of voters oppose hiking the sales tax. Nearly 26 percent opposed Riordan's ballot measure proposal, which the former mayor recently abandoned. Thirty percent of voters did not have a position.[11]

Mayor's proposal

In a June 6, 2012 letter, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ordered the city’s top budget analyst to expedite a report detailing ways the city can enact several changes. The proposed changes include:[12]

  • Raising the retirement age from 55 to 67 for new civilian hires
  • Reducing the maximum amount of money retired city workers can receive through pensions
  • Cutting the amount the city will pay for retirement health care in half
  • Cutting coverage for spouses and dependents

None of the changes would apply to police officers or firefighters — or any civilian worker hired before July 1. The change in pension benefits could save the city as much as $4.3 billion over a 30-year period, according to a report released in September, 2012.[13]

If the plan is adopted, the union that represents city employees is threatening to sue the city.[14]

After the success of voter referendums in San Diego and San Jose, Mayor Villaraigosa said he was prepared to take public pension reform directly to voters next year. He also wanted to raise the city's retirement age to 67 from 55. Villaraigosa also wants to cap maximum pensions at 75 percent of salary and reduce the cost-of-living adjustments on pensions.[15]

Reforms approved

On Sept. 24 the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to roll back pension benefits and raise the retirement age to 65 for new civilian employees hired after July 1, 2013. Under the plan, spouses of retired workers will no longer be eligible for city-funded healthcare. City employees will reductions in take-home pay in years when their retirement fund takes a hit in the stock market. Workers who retire at the age of 55 after 30 years of city employment will receive pensions that are roughly one-third the amount provided to existing employees. The changes will only apply to newly hired civilian workers and will not affect the retirement benefits of police officers, firefighters and employees at the Department of Water and Power.[16] Labor unions may file a lawsuit challenging the council's authority to impose new pension plans without negotiating. The plan will need a second vote in 30 days for it to go into effect next year. The approved changes include:[17]

  • Raising the retirement age from 55 to 65
  • Capping the maximum retirement benefit at 75 percent of final compensation, instead of the 100 percent currently allowed;
  • Limiting cost-of-living increases to 2 percent;
  • Increasing employee contributions to benefits;
  • Eliminating retiree health care benefits for dependents; and
  • Using a three-year average to calculate benefits to prevent pension "spiking."

Ballot initiative

Former Mayor Richard Riordan is seeking to place a pension reform proposal on the May ballot. Under his plan, city workers would have to contribute substantially more to their retirement plans; it would place all newly hired city employees into a 401(k)-style system; and it would freeze automatic pension increases when the city’s pension fund investments are not doing well.[18]

Labor unions are attempting to persuade people not to sign the petition.[19]

The former mayor ended his signature gathering quest after Riordan's Save Los Angeles campaign determined it would not meet its own Dec. 28 deadline to gather signatures to get pension reform on the May 21 ballot.[20]

Lobbying

See also: California government sector lobbying

For 2007 and 2008, Los Angeles spent $2,397,335 on lobbying, while the city's attorney's office spent $192,041. Total, the city spent $2,589,376 in 2007 and 2008.[21]

Taxes

All businesses operating within the city must pay a city business tax. Information on the tax is provided by the Office of Finance.[22] Tax rates for the period of 2009-2011 can be found here.

Website evaluation

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Budget Y
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Meetings Y
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Elected Officials Y
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Administrative Officials Y
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Permits, zoning Y
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Audits Y
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Contracts Y
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Lobbying N
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Public Records Y
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Local Taxes P
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Transparency grading process

The good

  • Current and past budgets are posted.[23]
  • Meeting dates, agendas, and reports are posted.[24][25]
  • City Council members are listed with contact information. Each council member has an individual website with biographical and district information.[26]
  • The Mayor's website has a contact form but phone number and direct email are not listed.[27]
  • Names and phone numbers of city administrators are provided.[28] Email addresses for departments are also provided.[29]
  • Zoning information and building permits are available.[30][31]
  • Audits are posted.[32]
  • Contracts are available for viewing in a searchable database/[33]
  • Bids and RFPs are posted.[34]
  • Contact information is given for those interested in accessing city public records.[35]
  • Business tax information is provided.[36]
  • Registration information is available on those registered to lobby the city. [37]

The bad

  • Information on fees and license costs is not provided.
  • Information on membership in any taxpayer funded lobbying associations, or the city's own lobbying activities, is not provided.

See also

External links

References

  1. Wall Street Journal, L.A. Budget Deal Cuts Police, Fire, May 21, 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 2010-2011 Budget Summary
  3. LA Times, Villaraigosa delays payment of $100 million in personnel costs, Jan. 3, 2011
  4. Daily News, Audit: City lost $3M by mishandling workers' comp, Oct. 13, 2010
  5. Los Angeles Times, "L.A. County supervisors sip from customized water bottles," March 31, 2009
  6. 6.0 6.1 Your Government At a Glance
  7. Salaries
  8. 8.0 8.1 MacIver Institute, City of Milwaukee Pension a Ticking Time Bomb According to Northwestern Study, Oct. 12, 2010
  9. LA Daily News, Mayor: Layoffs, pension pressure loom, March 30, 2012
  10. City of Los Angeles Pension Reform, Ballot Measure G, "Ballotpedia."
  11. LA Times, L.A. voters support pension changes over sales tax hike, poll finds, Dec. 3, 2012
  12. CBS, Villaraigosa Calls For Pension Reform For City Workers, June 8, 2012
  13. LA Times, L.A. pension proposal would hike retirement age, cut benefits, Sept. 18, 2012
  14. Southern California Public Radio, Labor threatens to sue Los Angeles over pension plan, Sept. 18,2012
  15. Chicago Tribune, LA mayor eyes possible referendum on pension reform, June 14, 2012
  16. LA Times, L.A. City Council backs pension cuts for new workers, Sept. 25, 2012
  17. NBC LA, LA Council Approves Pension Reforms for New City Workers, Sept. 25, 2012
  18. SCPR, LA Unions Launch 'Riordan Signature Busters' to Stop Pension Proposal, Nov. 18, 2012
  19. SCPR, LA Unions Launch 'Riordan Signature Busters' to Stop Pension Proposal, Nov. 18, 2012
  20. ABC Local, Richard Riordan halts pension reform campaign, Nov. 26, 2012
  21. State-Level Lobbying and Taxpayers: How Much Do We Really Know?, Pacific Research Institute
  22. Office of Finance
  23. Budget
  24. City Events Calendar
  25. E-Packets
  26. City Council
  27. Ask the Mayor
  28. Phone Directory
  29. Contact Us
  30. Planning
  31. Building and Safety
  32. Audits and Reports
  33. City Contracts
  34. Bids and RFPs
  35. Records
  36. Finance
  37. Ethics Commission