LA Mayor’s Proposed Budget Is a 2.3 Percent ‘Reset’ Downward

Karen Bass’s $12.8 billion spending plan cuts funding for her signature homelessness program but gives the LAPD an increase.
LA Mayor’s Proposed Budget Is a 2.3 Percent ‘Reset’ Downward
LAPD officers watch children walk to Larchmont Charter School near a homeless encampment. (Courtesy of Keith Johnson)
City News Service

Facing a revenue shortfall and unexpected spending needs, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass released a proposed $12.8 billion city budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year—a 2.3 percent decrease from this fiscal year—and planned to meet with the City Council April 23 for revisions.

The proposal includes $65 million in cuts to the mayor’s signature Inside Safe program; an increase of more than $138 million for the police department; and a decrease of about $23 million for the fire department.

The proposal presented Monday by Bass goes to the City Council for revisions. The fiscal year begins July 1.

“We’re here today to lay out a path forward for Los Angeles,'' Bass said during a news conference at City Hall.

Bass stressed that her proposed budget will continue the city’s work in addressing challenges such homelessness, public safety and meeting climate goals.

“This budget continues our momentum toward change by prioritizing core city services, but using this as an opportunity as a reset, so that our budgets moving forward are more honest, transparent and more focused,'' she said.

The proposed budget would allocate $185 million to Bass’s cornerstone homelessness program, Inside Safe, a decrease of $65 million from this fiscal year.

Of this funding, about $70 million would be used to pay for motel rooms and other interim housing, while another $60 million would cover social services at these sites, including health care, meals, case management, housing navigation and substance-abuse programs.

About $28 million would be allocated for permanent housing and time-limited subsidies, and $24 million for housing acquisition.

Bass also proposed $2 million to expand street medicine teams and continue providing medical visits to homeless people. Her office noted that more than 6,000 medical exams were conducted by these street teams this fiscal year.

Another $3 million would support the Los Angeles Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise program, known as LA Rise, which provides subsidized job opportunities for unhoused people.

More than $4 million would be spent on mobile hygiene centers. About $17 million would be spent on FamilySource Centers, which help families at risk of falling into homelessness.

A homeless man in front of an Inside Safe site in Los Angeles on March 4, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
A homeless man in front of an Inside Safe site in Los Angeles on March 4, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Affordable-housing efforts would receive $4.4 million from state grants, with plans to expedite processes for mixed-income residential projects with on-site affordable units.

City officials are looking to expand homelessness prevention programs by leveraging Measure ULA dollars from $150 million to more than $400 million. Passed by LA voters in 2022, Measure ULA, known as the Mansion Tax, is a special tax on property sales exceeding $5 million.

With Bass stressing the need to recruit sworn officers to the LAPD’s depleted ranks, the police department would receive an increase of $138 million from the city’s general fund. Combined with federal, state and other funding sources, the overall LAPD budget is about $3.3 billion.

The goal, Bass has repeatedly said, is increasing the number of officers to 9,084, though city leaders have said they want to hire 9,500 officers by 2028 or earlier. In 2023, the city approved contracts with the unions representing LAPD’s low- and high-ranking officers that are expected to cost more than $1 billion through 2027.

The fire department, meanwhile, would receive $814 million, a decrease of nearly $23 million.

However, the proposal would increase funding for the fire department’s Emergency Appointment Paramedic Program, with city officials noting the LAFD responds to more calls for service related to medical emergencies than other categories.

Construction workers gather at the repairs to the I-10 freeway, which was closed by an underpass fire on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Los Angeles on Nov. 19, 2023. (Alex Gallardo/AP)
Construction workers gather at the repairs to the I-10 freeway, which was closed by an underpass fire on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Los Angeles on Nov. 19, 2023. (Alex Gallardo/AP)

Another $2.5 million would bring new equipment and technology updates for LAFD, prompted by the aftermath of the November arson fire beneath the Santa Monica (10) Freeway that forced a temporary closure of the road.

The proposed budget also invests $50 million in alternative response programs, such as the Crisis and Incident Response through Community-Led Engagement, Summer Night Lights program, and the Office of Community Safety.

City Administrative Officer Matt Szabo has said the city faces a $469 million deficit, composed of $289 million in unexpected spending and $180 million in less revenue than expected. City revenue generated by several taxes has come in slowly, while overspending was partly due to costs associated with public-safety overtime, liability claims and other issues, Szabo has said.

To right-size the budget, city officials have dipped into the reserve fund. The city has also implemented a hiring priority plan, and will look to eliminate 2,000 vacant positions from the books, which could save $150 million to $200 million.

Bass noted the city would invest $1.8 million to modernize the MyLA311 system to improve accountability and respond more quickly to residents’ service requests.

“The mayor’s proposed budget projects only a 1 percent increase in revenue growth over the adopted budget for this current fiscal year -- that’s just $83 million,'' Szabo said during Monday’s budget briefing. ”We continue to see downward pressure on sales, business, hotel, documentary

transfer, and property taxes.'’

He added, “We are still seeing the effects of high interest rates and inflation that are having effects on consumer behavior on the housing market.'’

Szabo noted the proposed budget would ensure the city remains within its financial policy of maintaining a 5 percent reserve fund.

Other highlights of the mayor’s proposed budget, include:
  • $13.1 million for street lights and the prevention of copper wire theft.
  • $2.2 million for 128 more crossing guards at Los Angeles Unified School District schools.
  • $35.7 million for sidewalk improvements.
  • $24.6 million in fleet vehicle replacements and $14 million to purchase new electric buses for the city’s Commuter Express service.
  • $1.2 million for 150 more electric-vehicle chargers in low-income neighborhoods.
  • $4.8 million for infrastructure improvements at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant and another $1.5 million for other water conservation efforts.