L.A.'s City Workers Get Richer While Taxpayers Get Poorer

With reckless abandon, Los Angeles city leaders gave payroll increases and lucrative compensation packages for city workers, which can be directly attributed to the $406 million budget deficit they are now facing for fiscal year beginning in July. Sadly, city leaders knew they were putting Los Angeles’ future into financial jeopardy by agreeing to the payroll raises last year—but did so anyhow.

According to the LA Daily News, May 11, 2008, “As Los Angeles grapples with its largest budget deficit in history, lucrative compensation packages for thousands of city workers are driving much of the gap , and there’s little end in sight.”

It is mind-boggling that, “In the past year alone, gross annual payroll costs have soared $120 million for nearly 48,000 city employees - $90 million of that going to 35,000 civilian and sworn workers- and bumped the total payroll up to $3.2 billion, or nearly half Los Angeles $7 billion budget.” It is incredibly irresponsible for Los Angeles city leaders to allow their budget to spiral out of control when taxpayers, who are footing the bill, are forced to make tough decisions and live within their means.

“While city leaders seek to close a looming $406 million budget shortfall with everything from fee hikes to service cuts, a Daily News review of salary data shows more than 21,000 city workers take home $70,000 or more a year and more than 6,000 take home more than $100,000.
If private businesses ran their operation in this manner, they would go broke in short order. Unfortunately, government has no fiscal bottom line, they can go to the taxpayer trough and pig-out until their heart’s content.

“Nobody to my knowledge in the history of Los Angeles has ever actually cut their salary (versus passing up cost-of-living increases),”
said a former chairman of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce representative. This is precisely why Los Angeles faces a major deficit and until they have the courage to make the necessary changes, the city will continue to experience their chronic budget woes. It does not take a mental giant to figure out you cannot spend more than you collect, thereby creating a balanced budget.  

Moreover, a chief economists with the nonprofit Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. said, “It’s what you call governmental accounting, is the best way to characterize it. You have warnings, and their response is, we’re going to maintain the city work force at the same level, then pay more overtime and give rich raises.”

Civil service is out of step in Los Angeles, and it will be, so long as city leaders continue to spend beyond their means. A representative of the downtown Economic Roundtable, said, “There will be taxpayer revolt against future tax hikes if the city does not get its fiscal house in order.” So, as city leaders hold budget hearings, they need to keep taxpayers’ bottom line in mind when doling out city payroll increases and lucrative compensation packages like drunken sailors.

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