Mayor Karen Bass’s first citywide budget passed a key hurdle Friday, with a five-member committee paving the way for her to spend $250 million on Inside Safe, her strategy to against homelessness.
The City Council’s Budget, Finance and Innovation Committee reached a compromise with Bass in an effort to secure additional oversight of Inside Safe, the company that moved the non-residential Angelenos into the hotel, motels and other facilities.
Council members have sought more oversight over the program, which has moved about 1,200 homeless people into their homes to date. deep warning last week that the commission’s push for an additional review – setting aside some money for the program to be approved later – would take City Hall back to the days when homelessness was “lack of urgency”.
The commission resolved the issue by calling for approximately $184 million of the planned $250 million will go into the city’s “unallocated balance,” an account where city programs receive funding but typically require additional council approval. copper. However, the committee took steps to ensure that Bass’s homeless group would have immediate access to the remaining funds — without triggering additional council votes.
Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, who chairs the committee, compared the arrangement to an auto-refilling Starbucks gift card: Whenever the mayor’s Inside Safe account drops below $25 million, it automatically was replenished by $25 million from the unused balance, he said.
Blumenfield says council members will be notified in advance of each transfer to an Inside Safe account — and reserve the right to refuse that transfer if they have concerns about the program.
“[Bass] he’s concerned about feasibility… and I’m concerned about oversight and accountability,” he said. “I wanted to find a third way that could create accountability and oversight, but still work for her.”
Bass, for his part, will be required to provide biweekly reports on Inside Safe, outlining how the money is being spent and what the initiative is achieving.
The mayor’s proposed budget is currently being forwarded to the full City Council, which is expected to make a decision on Thursday. The next budget year begins July 1.
Zach Seidl, a spokesman for Bass, said in a statement that the mayor and her team are reviewing the committee’s actions.
“This is one step in a multi-step process and the mayor looks forward to continuing to work with City Council to urgently get Angelenos inside,” he said. “The Mayor is confident that the partnership with City Council established over the past five months will continue.”
When the board approved $50 million for Inside Safe in January, board members said they wanted biweekly report from the progress of the initiative. Only one report has been produced so far.
City Controller Kenneth Mejia, who sent staff to oversee the early Inside Safe operation, has suggested in recent months that there are legal limits to his ability to oversee the program.
“Because Inside Safe is under the mayor’s office, some interpretations of city law make it difficult for us to make an independent review,” he wrote on Twitter in March. “That’s why we and the other offices must obey the mayor.”
Head of Legislative Analysis Sharon Tso, who advises the council on the budget process, also raised the issue of oversight related to Inside Safe and other programs.
“While the mayor has no objection to implementing his priorities and directing the appropriate departments, doing so without review by the city legislature is highly disturbing and unsettling. upset the balance established in the City Charter,” Tso said in a memo sent to the committee. this week.
During this year’s budget hearings, the oversight of Inside Safe turned out to be a bigger source of controversy than the mayor’s proposal to hire the police. Bass appealed to the Los Angeles Police Department increased to 9,500 officers — a goal seen by many at City Hall as difficult to achieve. The set currently has 9,100.
On Friday, the budget committee approved the mayor’s hiring plan. At the same time, the board recommended removing approximately $31 million from her proposed budget for the LAPD, scaling back the amount allocated to salaries and related expenses. The commission also recommended adding $10 million for police hiring and overtime to the city’s unallocated balance.
Blumenfield said he remains committed to the mayor’s hiring goal, even amid the LAPD’s proposed budget cut effort.
“None of these cuts will hinder hiring,” he said.
Councilmember Curren Price at one point tried to block the LAPD budget cut plan, but later withdrew his petition after receiving reassurances from Tso that there would still be enough money to hit it. get the mayor’s LAPD recruiting goal.
“I think we have a responsibility to support her as she strives to achieve her goals,” he said in a statement.