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South L.A. Needs YOU to Speak Up at Regional Budget Day on Saturday, March 16.

The responses received from around the city about budget priorities as of 2/13/13.

"This chart sums up why South LA consistently gets left behind when funds are divided," reads the post on the Empowerment Congress West Area Neighborhood Development Council's facebook page (referring to the image above).

The chart describes the distribution of the responses received as of February 13 of this year to the Mayor's annual Budget Survey.

The survey -- available online or in hard copy -- was designed to engage neighborhood councils and other community stakeholders on their fiscal priorities to help the Mayor's office best direct resources, given the $216 million budget shortfall projected for 2013 - 14. The response period for the survey closed last week so that staff would have time to review the results and prepare the budget, set for release on April 20th. The results of the survey will be posted to the budget website on March 16, 2013.

Although city staff are apparently still tallying the results from the nearly 5,000 surveys received, of the 2,881 responses they had logged in February, only 67 were from South L.A. Worse still, 19 of those responses came from the Mid-City Neighborhood Council, an area north of the 10 freeway and sandwiched mostly between La Cienega on the west and Crenshaw on the east. While it is great they participated in such numbers, the area -- now including some of the Culver City arts district -- is not necessarily representative of the larger needs of South L.A.

While the extent to which the ~$200 million shortfall is of consequence in a $6 billion budget might be debatable for some, the survey seemed to indicate that cuts are looming on the horizon. Participants were asked to rank the importance they gave to things (i.e. police or fire services, economic development and private sector job creation, livable communities, or improved infrastructure), engage questions of long-term reform (i.e. of pension programs or outsourcing of city contracts), vote to support or cut off funding to particular programs/services, vote to raise taxes or fees, and decide whether or not L.A. should be dipping into its budget reserves. At the end of the survey, you are taken to a summary page that tells you just how much your choices left the city in debt (in my case) or whether you succeeded in balancing the budget.

The Empowerment Congress wants you to know that even if you were not able to participate in the survey, Regional Budget Day is this coming Saturday, March 16th. Representatives of the Mayor's office and/or city administrative staff will be on hand to present the results of the survey and solicit feedback from community stakeholders. South L.A.'s workshop will begin bright and early at 8:00 a.m., when participants can start signing up to offer comment, and run through 12:30 p.m. It will be held at the Mark Ridley-Thomas Constituent Center, located at 8475 S. Vermont Ave. (90044). You are asked to please RSVP here or call 213-978-1551 to confirm your participation.

For more information about the Empowerment Congress West, please click here.

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