The Los Angeles City Council voted today to cut $150 million from the police department's budget next fiscal year, following weeks of demands from activists to reduce funding for law enforcement.
The cut will drop the number of sworn officers under 10,000 to 9,757 officers by next summer, said the L.A. Times. That will shrink the force to its lowest level since 2008.
Much of the savings from the LAPD budget will be used to improving underserved areas and communities of color.
The proposed operating budget of the LAPD was about $1.86 billion before the proposed cuts. The police union derided the cuts but activists behind the "defund police" movement wanted even larger reductions.
"I want to take this time to acknowledge Black Lives Matter-LA organizers and others for keeping our feet to the fire and demanding more from our government," Councilmember Curren Price said on Tuesday. "The conversations that we've been having today, from reducing the LAPD budget and reallocating the money for social services to changing policing policies, would not happen if it hadn't been for their efforts."
The council voted 12-2 in favor of the budget adjustments with no discussion, and councilmen Joe Buscaino and John Lee cast the dissenting votes.
Lee said it's still important to acknowledge how far the LAPD has come in its reformation from decades ago. He said two-thirds of LAPD officers are people of color and that the department has been a "model" in its reforms.
"We all need to constantly strive to be better, but it's also important for this council to recognize when we have moved forward, and it's important that our city sees that our promises are not just empty words," Lee said. "Decades ago, our city made a promise to reform LAPD, and that is exactly what we have done."
Pandemic Financial Fallout
This year's budget process for Los Angeles is unlike any other due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the City Council voted on financial adjustments to a spending plan that's already in effect, as the fiscal year began Wednesday.
The entire Los Angeles 2020-21 budget is about $10.5 billion.
According to city documents, based on May receipts, estimates from the Office of Finance, the Department of Transportation and information concerning sales and electricity users tax receipts show the city's revenue for 2019-20 is estimated to be $6.32 billion -- about $253.5 million below the 2019- 20 proposed budget.
Revenues in the 2021 fiscal year are difficult to forecast due to the pandemic, with the City Administrative Officer's staff reporting they could be about $6.68 billion, but staff also said they could be anywhere between $45 million to $409 million below that estimate.
Financial Reserves Dwindling
One of the red flags council members have brought up in committee meetings is the city's dwindling reserve funds that were used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As it stands, the city's reserves in the 2020-21 fiscal year are expected to be below the city's minimum target of 2.75% of the general fund, with about $227 million remaining, but the council voted to find ways to move funds from various departments and resources to raise the reserve fund to $284 million, according to city documents.
This is still well below the city's aspirations of having 5% in reserves across the board and lower than the almost 8% it had prior to the pandemic.
The council approved $75 million in federal Coronavirus Aide, Relief and Economic Security Act funds to provide cash flow for the city's COVID-19 responses.
The City Council will be in recess through July 28, a mid-year break it takes every year.