LA County Seal

By Christina Villacorte, Los Angeles Daily News
Posted: 04/14/14, 11:15 AM PDT | Updated: 8 hrs ago

Los Angeles County’s budget officials on Monday unveiled a proposed $26.1 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2013-2014 that calls for hiring about 1,300 new employees — mostly nurses and social workers — as well as funding for reforms in the troubled jail and child welfare systems.

Supervisors Gloria Molina and Michael Antonovich, however, believe more money should have been set aside for patrolling unincorporated communities and repairing aging infrastructure. And Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky wants to know whether the county’s hospitals, clinics and health centers can absorb hundreds of new staffers before approving any hiring.

Meanwhile, a steward in the county’s largest employee union complained the proposed staffing increases are not enough to reduce social workers’ caseloads to a manageable level. Members of the Service Employees International Union Local 721 went on strike last year to complain that social workers handle as many as 30 or more cases at a time.

At a news conference at the Hall of Administration on Monday, county Chief Executive Officer William Fujioka said the Great Recession may be over but challenges remain.

“It is important to note that although the economy is showing signs of recovery, our principal concern is whether this recovery is sustainable,” he said.

“Accordingly, the focus of this year’s budget is stabilization and prudent growth,” he added.

Of the proposed budget, 24 percent will go toward health services, 23 percent to social services and 20 percent to public protection. Other expenses account for the rest.

Almost half of the county’s spending money will come from the state and federal governments, while the county’s property tax revenues account for 21 percent.

Fujioka said he is cautiously optimistic the county will have additional revenues on top of that because property values are returning to pre-recession levels and the unemployment rate is continuing to decline.

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