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LARRY KANTER Staff Reporter

Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alatorre has thrown a new roadblock in front of the city's proposed "living wage" ordinance delaying any action on the measure until a new analysis is completed.

City Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg is backing a compromise version of the measure that would force companies doing business with the city to pay workers $7.25 an hour with benefits, or $8.50 an hour without.

Goldberg wanted the proposal moved directly to the City Council for consideration last week. But during an often-contentious joint meeting of the city's budget and personnel committees, Alatorre pushed successfully to delay action until city fiscal and policy analysts can review a city-commissioned study by researchers at UCLA and Carleton College in Minnesota.

The committee, which met last Tuesday, also asked analysts to investigate legal questions surrounding the measure, after the City Attorney's Office suggested that it might not withstand a court challenge on possible conflicts with federal law.

The new analysis will take at least two weeks to complete, according to the city legislative analyst.

The delay clearly irked Goldberg, who believes the city needs to ensure that workers get a wage that brings them above the poverty level.

But Alatorre, who chairs the joint committee, said he was uncomfortable moving forward until the panel has a better idea of the measure's likely impact.

"We still need to find out what the costs are," he said.

City officials have been confronted with three conflicting studies on the measure, which is backed by organized labor but opposed by business groups who say the proposal will strain the city budget and poison the business climate.

Supporters of the measure have estimated its costs in additional payroll and city contracting expenses at $93 million a year. A study by the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce placed the cost at $130 million annually.

The new city-commissioned study found that by scaling back certain elements of the proposal, its costs could be reduced to between $5 million and $20 million a year.

But even a scaled-back version of the wage boost faces an uphill battle.

Mayor Richard Riordan has vowed to veto the proposal in the event it is passed by the City Council.

"We continue to have concerns," Gary Mendoza, deputy mayor for economic development, said at Tuesday's meeting.

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