Represent! | Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Mayor Eric Garcetti: No raises for Los Angeles city workers

Speaking to KPCC Monday, Mayor Eric Garcetti said he will run for re-election in 2017, but would not commit to serving out a second term if another office beckoned.
Speaking to KPCC Monday, Mayor Eric Garcetti said he will run for re-election in 2017, but would not commit to serving out a second term if another office beckoned.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

As union contract negotiations get underway for Los Angeles city firefighters, police officers and most City Hall employees, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday he does not support any raises for city workers.

The comment was made in a wide-ranging interview with KPCC editors and reporters. The mayor said the city cannot afford pay increases in the next contracts with city unions. 

“I don’t see us being able to afford probably for that term — for two or three years at least — any raises,” Garcetti said. The current contracts with public safety and rank-and-file unions expire this year.

At the same time, Garcetti wants to see city workers pay 10 percent of their health premiums. Currently, the unions pay varying amounts.

Department of Water and Power

If taxpayers don't have to pay for raises, it could still be a mixed bag, financially speaking, for Angelenos. While Garcetti couldn’t say how much water and electricity rates will increase later this year, he told Angelenos to expect double-digit increases in the coming years.

“Over the next five years, it’s difficult to imagine there won’t be collectively a [lower] double-digit increase,” Garcetti said.  

In explaining those kinds of figures, Garcetti said there’s a real need to invest in DWP infrastructure.

“I don’t want to be one of those mayors who lives on the cheap and leaves a very expensive bill behind,” he said.

Street repair bond measure

Angelenos could also be asked to pony up for a $3 billion initiative that would fix the city’s failing streets. The Bureau of Street Services currently does not repair streets that are considered “failed” because of the huge expense. Councilmen Joe Buscaino and Mitch Englander have floated the idea of a multibillion-dollar bond that would allocate money just for those streets. But, Garcetti is unsure whether he would support such a measure.

“If there’s a chance of it passing — yes,” Garcetti said of his possible support.

Angelenos pay, on average, more than $800 a year for car repairs related to the city’s road conditions. The Buscaino-Englander proposal could cost each taxpayer $150 a year.

“I’m not going to put it on the ballot if I don’t think it can pass. That’s a waste of my time,” Garcetti said. Such a bond measure would require approval from two-thirds of voters for passage. 

Political future

The mayor, who is just eight months into his tenure, told KPCC he will run for re-election in 2017. However, he did not commit to serving out a second four-year term.

“I am not interested in how far I can get. I’m interested in what I can do,” said Garcetti, leaving open the possibility of a run for higher office. Garcetti has given no indication what other office he might pursue.

Worth noting: there will likely be an open race for governor in 2018, assuming Jerry Brown doesn't run again when he'll be 80 years old. And Dianne Feinstein hasn't said whether she'll run again for the U.S. Senate in 2018, when she'll be 85. Senator Barbara Boxer is next up for re-election in 2016.

On another political note, Garcetti said he's been asked for an endorsement by candidates in the race to replace retiring Congressman Henry Waxman, including from his former mayoral opponent Wendy Greuel and state Senator Ted Lieu. However, the mayor said he hasn't decided whether to weigh in on the race.