Trash Cash for Cops

IN ONE OF THE nation's largest cities, with one police officer for every 400 people, Los Angeles residents soon may be asked to exchange low-cost solid waste service for an increased public safety force.

“It's time for all of us to make the tough choices,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said during his April 21 State of the City address. “By asking residents to pay a larger portion of the cost of picking up their trash, we can pick up the cost of the police build-up over time.”

Currently, Angelenos pay $11 per month for trash services, which covers the cost of their containers and fleet costs. According to the mayor's office, the remaining burden for disposing of residents' solid waste, including expenditures for hauling, totals more than $274 million annually, or 65 percent of the overall cost.

Under the mayor's proposal, the fee will increase over the next five years from $11 to $28, with the additional revenue being used to net 1,000 police officers by 2010.

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Bill Bratton and Jack Weiss, a City Councilmember and chair of the council's Public Safety Committee, both have publicly expressed support for the proposal. Shortly after Villaraigosa unveiled his suggested budget, Weiss joined City Council President Eric Garcetti and President Pro Tem Wendy Greuel in trying to add a measure that would ensure the funds are used only for public safety.