Tobacco Funds to Be Used for Sidewalks, Parks
Los Angeles will use the first installment of its multimillion-dollar windfall from the national tobacco settlement to improve wheelchair access to sidewalks and build parks, under a plan approved by the City Council Tuesday.
The council unanimously agreed to spend about $8 million it expects to receive in the first year of the 25-year settlement deal to build sidewalk curb ramps, which are required by federal law.
But a dispute arose over what to do with the remainder of the first-year money--more than $5 million. The council decided to use $4 million of those funds to build parks in poor neighborhoods.
That move defied the wishes of several public health officials, who asked the council to allow a task force to recommend how the money should be spent.
In fact, the 1998 settlement with four major tobacco companies does not dictate how states are to use the money they receive. The $206-billion settlement was reached with 46 states to avert lawsuits that sought to recover Medicaid dollars spent to treat sick smokers. Los Angeles’ share of the agreement will total $312 million over 25 years.