Budget, Finance & Innovation Committee Budget Survey 2023-24
The City of Los Angeles has an annual budget of about $12 billion. In a City of 4 million people, that works out to about $3,000 per resident. That money has to cover meeting the basic needs of running the City--like our police and fire departments, streets and sewers--as well as the cost of programs that make our City and our people thrive--like parks, libraries, economic development, youth and senior programs.
The budget is divided between unrestricted General Revenues (such as sales, property and business taxes; utility taxes; parking tickets) which the City can choose how to spend, about 65% of revenue; and restricted Special Revenues, which must be spent for specific purposes, about 35% of revenue. For example, your trash and sewer fees can be spent only on the costs of trash collection and disposal, and sewers, sewage treatment and disposal; and gas tax revenue must be spent on roads and transportation. The City also applies for and receives grants that must be spent on specific projects.
Based on expenditures, the City's highest budget priority is Community Safety. About 63% of unrestricted funds, and 40.3% of all spending, goes to the LA Police and Fire Departments, the City Attorney's criminal prosecutions, emergency preparedness, and animal control.
The second highest budget priority is Home and Community Environment--our sewers and trash collection; street cleaning; tree and parkway maintenance; planning; building and safety; and similar functions. These functions--largely funded through fees and dedicated taxes--make up about 7% of unrestricted spending but 29.8% of all spending.
The City spends 12.7% of its budget on Transportation, including our streets, sidewalks, traffic signals, parking facilities and enforcement, DASH and Commuter Express buses. Most transit is provided by other agencies such as Metro.
Departments that provide Recreational, Educational and Cultural opportunities--recreation and parks, library, zoo, cultural affairs, etc.--account for about 10% of unrestricted spending and 6.8% of all spending. Under the LA City Charter, the Library Department and Recreation and Parks are guaranteed a specific share of General Fund revenue. Keep in mind that education spending is not by the City, but by the separate LA Unified School District.
The City spends about 2.4% of its budget on Human Resources and Economic Development. In addition to that, the City's Housing Authority spends more than $1.5 billion per year on housing assistance programs; Measure HHH spending to build homeless and low-income housing is also in addition to this amount.
Note: The State and County governments are responsible for and fund most social programs, including public health and mental health services (for both housed and unhoused persons). For example, in FY2022-23, the LA County budget includes $38.7 billion for health services (including $6.5 billion for mental health) and $24.6 billion for various public assistance programs.
The City spends about 12% of discretionary funds, and 8% of its total budget on General Administration & Support, including the Mayor, City Council, City Attorney, City Clerk, Controller, Finance the City Administrative Officer, and other management functions.