NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS-As Vice Chair for Development of the Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates, I recently made the following presentation to City Council’s Budget & Finance Committee on behalf of the Budget Advocates:
I have a few separate themes to bring to your attention.
First a bit of good news. During this challenging time, Neighborhood Councils are stepping up in important ways. Individual Neighborhood Councils have been working in their communities to bring valuable services to those in need. For instance, the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council partnered with Councilmember Ryu, calling upon seniors and delivering healthy meals to individuals who are home-bound.
What I see is that in this emergency our Neighborhood Councils are rising to the challenge.
Things are in flux, and we understand that no one can accurately predict where we will be in the next budget year. Whether the time at which you look at individual departments’ budgets is now or down the road, Budget Advocates recommend prioritizing cost-effective programs, that if not addressed in this budget, those programs will ultimately be more expensive.
I have five examples:
- In the Animal Services Budget, the City should fund spay/neuter services to eliminate unwanted pet births. The cost is less than surgeries for generations of their offspring.
- We should move forward with the several programs to address escalating climate concerns* including the Wildlife Pilot Study to protect habitat connectivity for wildlife and funding to maintain mature trees, all as recommended by the Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance. The cost of delay would be seen in more extreme weather, wildfires, loss of wildlife, and unhealthy air.
- It’s essential to address potential liabilities. The cost of street and sidewalk maintenance to prevent injuries, loss of life, and property damage is potentially less than out-sized settlements, At the same time addressing these matters would enhance Angelenos’ safety and quality of life.
- It’s important to maintain positions in the Personnel Department in order to move forward quickly with returning city staff to work and to accommodate long-term recovery efforts. After the last major downturn, it took the City much longer to recover because there were insufficient numbers of personnel staff to meet the hiring needs of the Departments.
- Cybersecurity and Information technology enhancements – Same as with the personnel department, IT expenditures were minimized for years which made recovery from the last recession more difficult. Prioritizing cybersecurity could prove all important to city functioning. Providing insufficient cybersecurity could prove an Achilles heel.
Budget Advocates are hopeful of expanding our role with our City government partners. We will be hosting Virtual Regional Budget Days the weekend of June 27 and 28 to discuss concerns our Neighborhoods have and to recommend priorities for city services.
As the Committee knows, our Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates produce an annual White Paper. For our audience, you can find it on our site at www.ncbala.com. Written many months ago, the title of the 2020 White Paper is “What’s Next?” Now we know, and it’s nothing we would have anticipated.
Budget Advocates are there to partner with you. Thank you for your consideration of our concerns.
*Office of Climate Emergency Mobilization, the Climate Emergency Commission, and Community Assemblies.
(Barbara Ringuette is a member of the Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates, serving as Vice Chair for Development. She is the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Region 2 Representative.) Photo: LA Daily News Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.