April 22, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles Pays Nearly Half a Billion in Liability Claims Over Four Years

LA Controller’s Report Reveals Significant Payouts from General Fund

LA City Controller Kenneth Mejia has continued to audit the City of Los Angeles and it’s various departments and various concerning issues within the city. His latest audit shows that in the fiscal years spanning from 2020 to 2023, the City of Los Angeles has shelled out a hefty sum totaling $471,989,730.58 in liability claim payouts. This audit information was released via Kenneth Mejia’s social media accounts. 

A vital fact that Mejia shared with a post on Twitter is that “Only 6 City departments have overspent, while almost 40 other departments and bureaus did NOT overspend and actually have budget surpluses.” The Los Angeles Police Department is far and away the department with the most payouts. Here are the top ten departments from the audit: 

POLICE DEPARTMENT $125,255,347 26.54%
PUBLIC WORKS / BUREAU OF SANITATION $93,733,839 19.86%
PUBLIC WORKS / BUREAU OF STREET SERVICES $88,374,767 18.72%
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION $50,618,473 10.72%
PUBLIC WORKS / BUREAU OF CONTRACT ADMINISTRATION $23,260,675 4.93%
FIRE DEPARTMENT $21,798,389 4.62%
DEPARTMENT OF RECREATION AND PARKS $21,377,285 4.53%
OFFICE OF FINANCE $19,878,384 4.21%
PUBLIC WORKS / ENGINEERING $7,972,218 1.69%
COUNCIL $3,119,096 0.66%

The press release asks the following question: What are liability payouts? These payments represent compensation that the City is obligated to provide to individuals who have been injured due to the City’s failure to meet its responsibilities. This can occur when City officials or employees directly cause harm or neglect to prevent avoidable harm to residents.

One really important fact is that most liability payouts do not come from the budgets of the specific City departments responsible for the incidents. Instead, a significant portion of these payments is drawn from the General Fund, which primarily supports city services and resources for Angelenos. That means the payouts take away from essential services and resources that benefit the residents of Los Angeles rather than the budgets of the departments that caused the injury and the eventual payouts. 

Mejia’s purpose behind sharing this financial data is twofold: to promote financial transparency and to enhance risk management efforts. By providing the community and decision-makers with access to this information, the City aims to shed light on which departments are contributing to liability claims. This transparency can aid in better managing responsibilities and minimizing the risk of harm that leads to such claims and subsequent payouts.

The City Administrative Officer’s report recently warned that Los Angeles could be facing a $400 million shortfall, and a previous report from the Controller stated that one in six of the current open positions in the City government’s structure are unfilled.

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