Tens of Millions of Taxpayer Dollars Sit Unused in Los Angeles City Departments - NBC Southern California
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Tens of Millions of Taxpayer Dollars Sit Unused in Los Angeles City Departments

Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin released a report calling on the city to reform the way it handles hundreds of special funds that he said hold more than $4 billion.

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    Tens of Millions of Taxpayer Dollars Unused in LA

    The special funds haven't been touched in years. Lolita Lopez reports for the NBC4 News on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019.

    (Published Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019)

    What to Know

    • Tens of millions of taxpayer dollars sit unused in accounts across city departments in Los Angeles, according to a new report.

    • The report calls for the city to reform the way it handles more than 700 special funds totaling $4 billion.

    • The balances of these funds make up roughly half of the city's treasury, yet nearly 600 special funds are not included in the yearly budget.

    Tens of millions of taxpayer dollars sit unused in accounts across city departments in Los Angeles, according to a new report released Wednesday by the L.A. Controller's office.

    The report calls for the city to reform the way it handles more than 700 special funds totaling $4 billion.

    The balances of these funds make up roughly half of the city's treasury, yet nearly 600 special funds are not included in the yearly budget, according to the City Controller.

    "We've collected these monies in fees, or in taxes or other sources of revenue and we are not spending it? That is not a good thing," L.A. Controller Ron Galperin said.

    Some examples in the report include:

    • The city spent just 1.4 percent (or $254,000) of an $18.2 million special fund dedicated to improving parks and recreation centers;
    • Another fund for the city's bicycle plan saw just 3.3 percent of its $1.7 million balance spent that year; and
    • There were zero expenditures from one $1.7 million fund to improve public safety.

    Galperin is calling for a new system to track the money including reviewing revenue and spending plans for each fund yearly, and adopt new procedures to repurpose and close out idle funds.

    Idle funds are described as funds that have not been used for three or more years. Idle funds hold more than $31 million in taxpayer dollars that could pay for essential services, according to the report.

    Nearly a year after the NBC4 I-Team told you about the idle funds, we have learned nine so called "idle funds" have closed, freeing up $1.2 million, according to the City Controller.

    But, Wednesday's report shows the amount of cash tied up in idle funds has increased over FY2018, including:

    • $3.3 million sitting in a seven-year-old fund dedicated to alleviating neighborhood traffic;
    • $3.1 million earmarked to create affordable housing in a small geographic area that should be repurposed and used citywide; and
    • $1.2 million in a decade-old fund, called "Healthy Alternatives to Smoking," which could be used to improve Angelenos' health habits.

    Search the full lists of the hundreds of special funds by category including Housing & Homeless, Parks and Public Safety here.

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