Workers at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power ended a short strike last week after agreeing to a new pay contract.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18, halted the nine-day walkout after being offered a package that includes a 9% pay increase over four years. Another union, the Engineers & Architects Association, will receive similar terms.

City officials had feared the walkout could jeopardize essential services at the nation's largest municipal utility, but no major problems arose.

A handful of city council members who opposed the package expressed concern about granting the pay raise while many other municipal employees have worked without an increase for more than a year.

An official in Mayor Richard Riordan's office said that the power department's salaries are funded through utility rates, while many other municipal salaries depend on the city's financially strapped general fund.

The California Debt Advisory Commission has scheduled a series of public hearings on local government finance late this month and in early October in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sacramento.

Information will be gathered about the impact of the state's recent $2.6 billion property tax revenue shift from local governments to education purposes. Commissioners also will examine Proposition 172, a proposal on the Nov. 2 special statewide election ballot that would permanently extend a half-cent sales tax for local public safety.

The debt advisory commission held a similar round of hearings last December. The hearings culminated in a joint meeting of the Assembly and Senate local government committees in January. Findings were presented by state Treasurer Kathleen Brown, who chairs the commission.

The upcoming hearings are expected to be of "general interest to your average citizen," said Steve Juarez, executive director of the commission. By contrast, last December's hearings were "directed at public finance officials," Juarez said.

The Los Angeles hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Sept. 27 in Room 350 at City Hall. The San Diego hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Oct. 1 in the San Diego County Boar of Supervisors' hearing room. The Sacramento hearing is planned on Oct. 4 at 10:30 a.m. in the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors' chambers.

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