Everyday throughout our city, from breakfast tables to board rooms, Angelenos are working hard to make it through these tough economic times. People are forced to make difficult choices everyday. Families are examining their values and businesses are setting their priorities.
Every budget is a balancing act. Every budget is a statement of values. And every budget is an opportunity to secure our future.
Here at City Hall, it is no different. We are living beyond our means and have difficult choices to make. We must protect our economic future.
Unfortunately, instead of making progress, we are headed in the wrong direction...up until today.
With the authority invested in me by the City Charter and the people of Los Angeles, I'm taking immediate action toward balancing this fiscal year's budget, strengthening the city's credit rating and restoring the city's long-term fiscal health.
Today, I am directing the elimination of 1,000 filled, full-time position authorities and instructing the Personnel Department to immediately begin calculating layoff, displacement seniority and/or transfers of employees filling these targeted positions.
I am also instructing the Personnel Department to place general funded employees into special funded positions and proprietary departments effective February 16, 2010. These transfers will generate savings to the city's general fund while permitting up to 360 employees to avoid layoffs.
Employees interested in volunteering for transfer to Special Funded or Proprietary departments will have until 5:00 PM on Monday, February 8 to inform their respective department heads. I will work with the Personnel Department and our general managers to effectuate these transfers from the list of volunteers. But I will reserve my right as Mayor to transfer any employee at any time as needed to protect the City's General and Reserve Funds.
I'm also calling on the Council to adopt an ordinance to allow City employees to retire without the usual 30 to 60 day advance application requirement. Waiving this requirement will expedite retirements and provide needed relief to the General Fund. It will also allow those employees who are facing layoffs and who are retirement eligible to leave the City in the most humane way possible.
Finally, I am asking the City Council to move their uncommitted funds, totaling up to $40 million, into the Reserve Fund until such time that the City Reserve Fund reaches 5% of the overall budget.
To be clear, these decisions are not easy. When I propose a layoff, I think of the single mother with three kids, one of whom may have urgent health care needs. When I contemplate eliminating a department, I think of the important services, that department provides to Angelenos and the hard-working people who run it.
But like most families in this city I know we can't afford to do everything, so we have to set priorities and make tough choices. If we have to choose between funding fire fighters and police officers or continuing to operate golf courses and parking meters across Los Angeles, I will choose public safety.
I do not relish these decisions. But neither will I shy away from them or pretend they don't exist. Angelenos all over our city, are making tougher choices between food or their prescription drugs, between school supplies and a doctor visit for their child, between their electric bill and their rent. It is time we at City Hall follow their lead, set priorities, and make the tough choices necessary to protect our core responsibilities.
Follow Antonio Villaraigosa on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LAMayorsOffice