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Between a Rock and Some Parking Spaces: City Council OK's Garage Leases, But Money Won't Come Fast Enough to Bridge Budget Gap

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Debate was heated yesterday during the Los Angeles City Council meeting as members discussed the proposal to lease city garages in order to stave off worker layoffs and furloughs, and ideally bring revenue into the city's cash-strapped coffers, according to the Daily News.

Ultimately the Council agreed to "move forward" with the plan, however "Councilman Bernard Parks, who chairs the city's Budget and Finance Committee, said the council's authorization Wednesday to begin negotiations to lease the garages would probably not result in any money until July, when next year's budget starts."

More than 100 speakers took to the podium to go on record regarding the controversial plan, including "business owners and executives, whose customers have enjoyed subsidized rates at some of the garages," who expressed opposition. However, "many were firefighters, city civilian workers and those on contract for programs dealing with gangs and graffiti - all of whom face program cuts, furloughs or layoffs if the lease plan does not go through."

One thing the Council did agree on was that stalling on the issue was not an option. Said Parks: "Every single day we wait will cost our city employees more."

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The plan is to lease the garages for 50 years, which will raise $53 million in the short term, and $1 billion in the long term; the short term, though, is not short enough, as the revenue is not expected to come in until the next budget cycle begins.