Drop the BS … Is Another Tax Increase In the Works?

LA WATCHDOG--The Second Financial Status Report issued on December 6 by the City Administrative Officer (“CAO”) said that the “currently projected expenditure imbalance of $83.9 million is still at a significant level.”  

[This does not consider raises for the City’s civilian work force of an estimated $40 million.]  

The major driver of “over expenditures” is $44 million of police overtime, comprising more than 50% of the projected deficit.  But in typical city fashion, the City has formed a committee to study the matter, even though unbudgeted police overtime has been a recurring issue.   

From the First Financial Status Report dated October 26, 2018, the CAO made the following recommendation that was endorsed by the City Council and approved by the Mayor: 

“Direct the Sworn Overtime Task Force consisting of the Los Angeles Police Department, the City Administrative Officer, the Chief Legislative Analyst, and the Mayor’s Office to submit a joint report within 45 days that includes a comprehensive analysis of sworn overtime and recommendations to eliminate the projected sworn overtime over-expenditure, avoid reliance on involuntary overtime banking, and establish a logical and effective method for budgeting sworn overtime based upon the Police Department’s goals and its expenditures and planned resources.” 

While we have not heard back from this Task Force, many have speculated that this is the beginning of an effort by City Hall and the LAPD to hire 2,000 more cops, financed by an increase in our sales tax to 10%, up from the current level of 9.5%. 

Our Mayor and members of City Council President Herb Wesson’s inner circle believe the voters are primed for yet another tax increase, especially one that supports public safety.  

Over the last two years, county voters have approved Measure M ($750 million for Metro), Measure A ($100 million for parks), Measure H ($350 million for homeless services), and Measure W ($300 million for stormwater).  

State voters rejected the repeal of the Gas Tax in November.  They approved almost $20 billion in bonds over the last two years (Education, Parks, Affordable Housing, and Hospitals).   And in 2016, they voted for more than $8 billion in additional taxes (Prop 56 - Cigarettes and Prop 55 – Soak the Rich Income Tax Surcharge).  

Now the Mayor Garcetti and Council President Wesson believe it is LA’s turn at the trough.   

Stay tuned as the City’s spinmeisters go to work, developing a story line around public safety, but ignoring calls for reform of the City’s budget and finances as pension contributions and its bloated, poorly managed, and inefficient work force contribute to the Structural Deficit that will burden that next generations with billions of debt. 

 

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com.)

-cw