An update today from budget officer Miguel Santana shows that this year's deficit has fallen from $54.5 million to $46.8 million. All but $4 million of the shortfall could be eliminated by moving a bunch of unspent money from one department to another, suspending police hiring for the rest of the year (a $725,000 savings), and cutting the Department of Recreation and Parks by $2.8 million. You may recall that the council's decision not to lease those public parking garages put a big hole in the 2010-2011 deficit, leaving city officials to scrounge for other savings. "It's basically the equivalent of going between the crevices of your couch and trying to find any kind of revenue you can," Santana said at a luncheon meeting yesterday (Bloomberg). All this, of course, has to be signed off by both the mayor and the council, and that's far from a sure thing. The suspension of police hiring, for example, "makes no financial or operational sense whatsoever," said Matt Szabo, Mayor Villaraigosa's chief of staff (LAT). Actually it does - Santana figures that by waiting until July 1, newly hired police and firefighters would qualify for reduced retirement benefits. That's when a recently approved ballot measure on pensions takes effect. But this is just a sample of what Santana can expect. Also keep in mind that the suggested cuts and transfers are only for the current budget year. Next year the city will start off with a deficit of $350 million - an amount that can't be made up just by moving money from one bucket to another. You can read the Santana memo at City Maven. It speaks volumes about the expansiveness of city government, with dozens and dozens of programs that clearly don't involve essential services. They all have their own constituencies and they won't go down without a fight.
More by Mark Lacter:American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
Recent Politics stories:Obama meets with victims of LAX shooting*
Maria Elena Durazo profile names a key name *
President Obama's arrival timed to rush hour (again)
Obama will visit DreamWorks Animation, Magic's home
Some USC students wish they were invited to Bush speech
Previous story: Here's why you can't totally write off Ron Paul
Next story: Monday morning headlines
New at LA Observed
On the Politics Page
Go to Politics
Sign up for daily email from LA Observed