From Councilmember Mitchell Englander:
On Thursday, the City Council unanimously passed the fiscal year 2017/18 Budget. As Chair of the Public Safety Committee and Vice Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, I am most pleased with the resources that were provided to our sworn police officers and fire fighters in order to increase the City’s ability to keep our residents safe and to protect our communities.
For LAPD, we increased the number of police officers on patrol through a civilianization process that added back necessary crime solving support services, including technicians to staff our DNA, latent fingerprint and firearm units – helping to increase the solve rate for property crimes in addition to homicides while returning officers to the streets. We also accelerated the final phase of detention officer hiring to return police officers working in the jails back to patrol functions. Technology and equipment needs were also funded – including a replacement of the non-emergency phone systems at four Valley stations. Perhaps most significantly, we were able to reduce the overtime and pension burden of the Metro Transit Contract.
In the Fire Department, we increased fire fighter hiring and added vital technology like the Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) System. We added a facility for the Operations Valley Bureau and provided support systems and civilian service personnel to the department to better facilitate reduced response times and firefighter health and safety. Public-Private Partnerships will also be utilized to reduce EMT/Ambulance response times through utilization of a Nurse Practitioner program.
The adopted budget also enhances funding for brush clearance, tree trimming, weed abatement, median maintenance and graffiti abatement and includes $31 million worth of street reconstruction for rebuilding failed streets – the first investment of this magnitude in decades.
There’s also over $30 million to fix broken sidewalks; increasing connectivity while making our streets safer for all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, children, and the aging population.
We provided for our seniors by restoring vital programs to provide health services and home delivered and congregant meals. Essential park maintenance has been restored including groundskeeping, landscaping and additional maintenance for restrooms. There’s also a directed effort to provide more park sports opportunities for girls.
The budget provides necessary resources to increase homeless services, expand the affordable housing stock and permanent supportive housing stock, while adding the funding necessary to reduce and clean encampments and illegal dumping in our neighborhoods.
We have also prioritized funding for technology to streamline, update and provide added security to necessary City functions – including business tax collection, procurement, and personnel.
Services necessary to enhance business friendliness like additional plan check positions, building inspectors, and enhanced cyber security for online business tax reporting and renewal are funded as are positions that enhance the customer service experience for our residents and businesses.
Unlike the current year, civil liabilities are funded at an appropriate level, based on actual experience – while providing the necessary resources to reduce risk going forward. This will eliminate the need to resort to terrible fiscal options like Judgement Obligation Bonds, going forward.
Finally, we are in compliance with all City financial policies, having exceeded the mandated requirements for infrastructure funding, and maintaining a healthy Reserve Fund and Budget Stabilization Fund.
I would like to thank my colleagues, in particular the Budget and Finance Committee Chair, Paul Krekorian as well as my fellow committee members, Bob Blumenfield, Mike Bonin and Nury Martinez. The 30+ hours spent in budget hearings is evidenced by a very solid City budget that provides investment and opportunity while enhancing core services.