Los Angeles mayor among 15,000 city employees furloughed due to ‘fiscal emergency’

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will be among the 15,000 city employees furloughed in mid-October due to an unprecedented budget shortfall.

The L.A. City Council voted on Wednesday to declare a fiscal emergency and approved plans to furlough more than 15,000 city employees. It also voted to offer early retirement packages for 1,280 workers.

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“The furloughs apply to us as elected officials and to all civilian employees, including those who work in our office, so yes,” Garcetti said during a news conference on Wednesday when asked whether he would also be furloughed. Garcetti noted that he declined to accept his salary for two months at the beginning of the pandemic, or roughly a 6% cut.

The furloughs, which are slated to begin on Oct. 11, would require civilian employees to take up to 18 unpaid days off from work for the fiscal year that began at the start of July.

“I absolutely believe that we have to lead by example, and we can’t ask more from folks than we’re willing to do ourselves,” Garcetti told reporters.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday that more restrictions on public and business activity could happen if there is a spike in coronavirus cases.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday that more restrictions on public and business activity could happen if there is a spike in coronavirus cases. (Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti via AP)

The city expects revenue from the 2021 fiscal year to fall anywhere between $45 million and $409 million below the initial $6.68 billion estimates, according to a local NBC affiliate. The furloughs are projected to bring in about $104.2 million in savings.

“This will be the toughest budget year we have ever faced,” Garcetti said.

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While cities across the country received aid through the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, the majority of the money is earmarked for public health measures like testing and contact tracing; financial support for families through rent relief, food and child care; grans to aid small businesses; and money for the city to pay and equip disaster services workers.

House Democrats have passed legislation that would allocate another $1 trillion to state and local governments ravaged by the pandemic; however, Republicans have questioned that figure, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin calling it “absurd.” State and local governments employ about 23.2 million essential workers.

“We’re not going to give a trillion dollars for state and local,” he said a recent interview with CNBC. “That’s just not a reasonable approach.”

Garcetti alluded to the stalled-out congressional negotiations over another emergency relief package.

“A lot of this rides on what happens in Washington,” he said.

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