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What Condition LA's Condition Is In: Fiscally 'Stable' With Challenges Ahead

Los Angeles City Hall juts skyward, its boxy central tower backlit by a glaring sun and a bright blue sky.
A new report from City Hall calls the city's financially stable, for now.
(Frazer Harrison
Getty Images)
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Los Angeles is fiscally "stable," spending less than it's taking in, but there are challenges ahead, City Controller Kenneth Mejia said in his first annual financial report.

Some Key Takeaways

The report showed that the city took in $20 billion in revenue in the fiscal year that ended last June, but it only spent $16.6 billion.

So revenues went up from the previous fiscal year by 8.7% and spending went down 4.5%.

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The biggest costs? Police, fire and sanitation. Below are some more highlights, as compiled by the controller's office:

What's next?

In a statement, Mejia's office cautioned that "significant challenges lie ahead." Those include:

  • No more federal pandemic funds. The city has spent down the nearly $2 billion in "one-time revenue from the federal government" that was provided during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Poor investment returns. When that happens, future pension costs increase. Those account for more than 15% of the general fund.
  • Homelessness crisis. There's general agreement the city will need to spend more to provide shelter for L.A.'s unhoused population.
  • Chronic underinvestment in capital and human infrastructure. Mejia notes these areas will "come under intense test from the impacts of climate change."

More background

Mejia was elected last fall in a landslide victory, becoming the first Asian American to hold citywide office in L.A. He campaigned in part on police accountability and decriminalizing homelessness and is part of an increasingly visible group of Asian American progressives inspired by former presidential candidate and current U.S. senator Bernie Sanders.

Go deeper: The full report is available on the controller's website, including breakdowns of revenue and expenses, salary data, and performance metrics for various departments.

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