Squeaky Wheel

| June 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Jack Humphreville

Would we do a better job of managing our local parks and street medians than the city?

Without a doubt!

The Department of Recreation and Parks’ budget has been savaged by the mayor’s new “full cost recovery” that has diverted more than $40 million to the General Fund to help finance the out-of-control increases in salaries, benefits, and pensions. Unsubstantiated “charge backs” have included $25 million for General Fund Cost Reimbursement and $15 million for water and power.

As a result, Rec & Parks has reduced its headcount by 20 percent, resulting in an even further deterioration of our parks, shorter hours, and a significant cutback in vital programs that benefit our disabled and senior citizens and our at risk youth.

However, during this same period, employee compensation (salary, benefits, and pensions) has increased by 20 percent to a staggering $96,000 a year.

Rather than rely on this arrangement that does not work, why not create a partnership with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council for the maintenance of the Harold Henry and Robert Burns Parks and the medians on Larchmont Blvd. and Highland Ave.?

The partnership would be responsible for all phases of the operation, including arranging for volunteers and contracting with eligible third parties. The funding would be provided by the Department based on the reasonable allocation of its projected expenditures of $269 million, less a modest discount that would accrue to the cash starved Department.

Fortunately, both Tom LaBonge and Eric Garcetti stood on the steps of City Hall with Steve Soboroff, and urged that the city preserve the funding for the parks and its programs. And what better way to start than to delegate the authority to the local level where we will have a say in the maintenance and operation of our parks and medians.

There will be numerous objections from the downtown bureaucrats and the campaign funding unions. But this is an opportunity for Garcetti and LaBonge to show that they are indeed friends of our parks, and not captives of the political system that is driving the city towards insolvency.

Jack Humphreville is on the board of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, chair of the DWP Advocacy Committee and writes for City Watch.

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