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LA County Set To Approve $36.7B Budget, Avoiding Layoffs

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is poised to approve a $36.7 billion budget Tuesday, increasing spending by $1.5 billion and avoiding layoffs.

Los Angeles Exteriors And Landmarks - 2020
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 05: General view of the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors Hearing Room on August 05, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

In a letter to the board, Acting Chief Executive Officer Fesia Davenport said losses in revenue were expected to be lower than forecast in June. And though county departments were previously asked to cut at least 8% from their budgets, proposed overall spending is expected to be higher than ever, due in part to the county's COVID-19 response and the restoration of programs slated to be cut as well as the introduction of new initiatives.

"The proposed investment areas and restorations include support for seniors and those at high-risk of COVID-19, other COVID-19 responsive services including testing, contact tracing, and medical sheltering, alternatives to incarceration, oversight and accountability in support of justice system reform, affordable housing, efforts to combat homelessness, jobs, workforce development and support for small businesses," according to Davenport's letter.

Davenport said the outlook for funding from federal, state and tax sources had improved since June, with an additional $273.5 million expected. The remainder of the additional funding came from "funding previously set aside for the sheriff's department, implementation of organizational efficiencies and departmental savings," according to the letter.

An additional $615 million of "found money" came from dollars not spent during the previous fiscal year, which ended June 30. According to Davenport, the county had nearly $2.2 billion left in its general fund account, higher than expected when the June forecast was made.

Prior to the latest budget proposal, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department was expected to be hardest hit with layoffs, prompting Sheriff Alex Villanueva to threaten the closure of patrol stations.

But, according to calculations from Davenport's office, not only will the sheriff be able to avoid layoffs, he will actually be able to fill new positions with at least $86 million in additional funding proposed.

"By using this funding now, and through savings achieved through attrition, the department can avert potential layoffs and retain deputy sheriff and custody assistant trainees who recently completed the training academy," a spokesperson for Davenport's office told City News Service. "The Chief Executive Office continues to work closely with the department to address longstanding budget issues."

Other significant proposed changes to the budget include:

  • $374.6 million for COVID-19 testing, tracing and medical sheltering;
  • $120 million for housing through Project Roomkey and Housing for Health;
  • $73 million for the Alternatives to Incarceration Initiative; and
  • $53.5 million for the county's Rainy Day Fund, which now totals $695.9 million

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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