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Should the City Council Give Up Their Pet Project Funds to Help Save the City Budget Deficit?

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Photo by Alan Heitz via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
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When Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa last week announced 1,000 layoffs, he ruffled some City Councilmembers' feathers when he added a request for some $40 million in off-budget pet project accounts. While he doesn't have power to force the Council to hand over the money, it was last week's press conference that pushed the issue into the media spotlight."Over the years some members have zealously guarded their district's share of the more flexible funds," reported the LA Times in an in-depth look at the special accounts. "Even though they are scouring other city departments for places to trim, council members are reluctant to part with resources that pay for neighborhood-friendly initiatives and, on occasion, the salaries of their own staff."

Certain accounts, like the Street Furniture Revenue Fund, cannot be transferred to the general budget or reserve fund. That's how they were set up in the City Charter, meaning it's law. However, Villaraigosa says the law can be changed. "Most of these funds were set up by ordinances and, as such, Council has the power to amend the ordinances so that the uncommitted funds may be transferred to the Reserve Fund," explained Villaraigosa spokesperson Sarah Hamilton to LAist.