A $7.7 billion Los Angeles city budget that restores some basic services while beginning to change the development permitting process received unanimous approval on Wednesday from the City Council.
With few changes from his original proposal, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is scheduled to sign the budget on Thursday, his office announced.
"We have taken a critical step forward," said Councilman Paul Krekorian, who chaired the Budget and Finance Committee that reviewed the spending plan.
Krekorian said the budget, which showed the first revenue increase in several years, includes its largest reserve fund in years, with $255 million set aside, as well as a budget stabilization fund of $61.4 million.
It also includes maintaining the Los Angeles Police Department at 10,000 officers and hiring two classes of firefighters to build up the Los Angeles Fire Department while also adding 25 basic life support ambulances.
The spending plan also includes funding for 800 miles of pavement preservation, restoration of tree trimming, an increase in graffiti abatement, restoring city libraries to seven day service and providing 100,000 meals to seniors.
Also, the council approved a six-month plan to study consolidating the city Planning and Building and Safety departments to streamline permitting and development processing.
That plan is backed by the city's major business groups, including the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Central City Association and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
Over the next six months, consultants will meet with various stakeholder, business, community and employee groups to work out the details of the new department, scheduled to begin operation on Jan. 1.
Councilman Mitch Englander called the consolidation a historic step to try to streamline the bureaucracy that has contributed to the city's reputation as being unfriendly to business.
"We started work on this with a vision of having one city, one department," Englander said. "This goes a long way to accomplish that."
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