LOS ANGELES, Calif.–The head of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power announced today that he will slash its budget by $440 million over three years.
The cuts, effective immediately, include a three-year hiring freeze, the elimination of take-home cars and computer purchases. The city-owned utility also will cancel purchases of property and trucks.
Ron Nichols, appointed in January to run the agency, said he anticipated the hiring freeze would prevent about 500 positions from being filled over the three-year period.
“We do not anticipate any service interruptions due to our cuts,” he said. “We don’t have a choice in not serving our customers. We’re not like other businesses. We have an obligation to server every customer with water and power that’s tied to our city.”
Nichols said the cuts amount to about 8 percent of the part of the budget that his department has control over. He stressed that about two-thirds of DWP’s more than $4 billion budget are out of the department’s control. Those include prices paid for water and fuel, as well as servicing debts.
The cuts did not require approval of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union, which accounts for about 90 percent of DWP’s 9,200 member workforce. But Nichols said he did consult with the union’s business manager, Brian D’Arcy.
“He has pledged to work with me to make sure we do this smart. That we implement this in a way that works for the union and works for the department,” Nichols said.
Asked if he plans to work with the DWP on pension reform, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said: “My focus right now is to continue to address the general fund problem that we face with respect to those civilian and sworn personnel.”
By Richie Duchon | City News Service