MOORLACH UPDATE — Board Meetings — June 29, 2011

The news about the County’s budget started filtering out early in the day, with the Los Angeles Daily News providing some fun prompting (the first article below).   I assembled headlines from June 17th for a speaking engagement I had last week.  They were from various newspapers around the state, describing how certain counties were doing.  Here are the headlines, with a selected quote from the related articles:

·         “San Bernardino County Supervisors debate budget cuts” (The Press Enterprise) – “With the county facing a $46.6 million deficit, the 2011-12 fiscal year budget calls for cutting staff by 4 percent, which translates to 768 positions, 233 of which are filled. The fiscal plan also calls for a 2.3 percent reduction in county spending.”

·         “Santa Barbara Supes Continue to Nail Down ‘Bare Bones’ Budget” (Santa Barbara Independent) – “The parade of pain in front of the Board of Supervisors continued Wednesday as it heard from more county departments on the devastation of closing a $72 million budget deficit.”

·         “Monterey County looks to finish budget” (The Californian) – “At its Tuesday meeting, the board will take up the budget that slashes $12.5 million, about 2.3 percent of this year’s spending.  The plan, tentatively approved earlier this month, eliminates more than 300 jobs, half of them filled.”

·         “Calaveras County to send out pink slips” (Calaveras Enterprise) – “The county was faced with a $4.5 million budget gap, roughly $1 million of which was closed with layoffs, time reductions and deleting vacant positions. Thirteen employees will get layoff notices.”

·         “Sonoma Board spares Henry 1, funds rural roads” (Press Democrat) – “Supervisors are seeking to close a $42.8 million gap in the county’s projected $379 million general fund, the main pot of discretionary money, down $16 million from the current year. The deficit is driven by an $11 million decline in general fund revenue — including a $3.1 million drop in property tax — and the continued increase in county costs, including retirement spending.”

Orange County has a story to tell.  We have a balanced budget and we put $19 million into reserves.  The only reason we have increased spending is because the Federal and State entitlement services that we provide grew.  The increase in spending is not ours, but for those whom we serve as a conduit.

Channel 7 ABC picked up the story next and attended our Board meeting.  After the vote to approve, KPCC 89.3 FM told the story first (the third piece below).  I was invited to come on live with Patt Morrison, but the Board meeting did not conclude in time.  (Chris Lane of KFI may provide an interview during The Bill Carroll Show, between noon and 3 p.m. this afternoon.)  The Los Angeles Wave also provided a similar story (the fourth piece).  And Channel 7 ABC did the follow up (the fifth piece), including a video clip that can be seen by clicking on the link.  The sixth piece is from the OC Register, which includes the news that we were receiving from Sacramento during the afternoon.  The County’s budget staff was working with representatives of our Sacramento delegation to address the potential loss of some $48 million in vehicle license fee (VLF) revenues (the annual registration fee that you pay on your car).  CBS-Los Angeles was at the Board meeting with KNX’s Ron Kilgore, who provides the seventh story below, with a link to Ron’s coverage. 

The eighth and ninth pieces address a different Board of Supervisor’s meeting.  It covers the Los Angeles Board, which approved a few of the boundary adjustments that we have been working on for the past five years.  This is a long-awaited accomplishment.  We have a few more parcels to go, but this is excellent progress.  It is amazing to me how long certain projects can take.  With term limits, no wonder so many issues that require a long-term investment just languish for lack of an ability to see it through to completion.  This topic is covered by the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Los Alamitos-Seal Beach Patch.

The closing story comes as a follow-up article with the Voice of OC.  I decided to vote against approving the pursuit of a grant from the Federal government for services that are already being aggressively addressed, when the Federal government is trying to raise its debt ceiling.  Why should I be an enabler for the receipt of funny money?

The union contract item with our management association was continued.  Consequently, I have no update on this topic, as promised in yesterday’s Update.

Daily News

OC supervisors to consider bigger budget today

Daily News Wire Services

SANTA ANA – Orange County supervisors today will consider approving a budget that increases spending 2.7 percent over the current fiscal year at a time when most municipal governments are slashing expenditures.

The reason Orange County has more money to spend and can balance the 2011-12 fiscal year budget is that officials went about making cuts in 2008 when the recession began, they say.

In fact, as county supervisors considered preliminary approval of the budget two weeks ago, they said they wanted to maintain part of an Orange County sheriff’s program that extends drug treatment to inmates after they are released.

So budget director Frank Kim found $450,000 in reserves to help pay for a six-month extension of the program. Sheriff’s officials had proposed cutting the in-custody and post-custody drug treatment program to save $2.2 million.

The sheriff’s department has other drug-treatment programs for inmates, but some ex-convicts told supervisors at their meeting two weeks ago that the Phoenix House program was especially helpful to them, moving the board members to try to extend the program until they can get a clearer picture from the state on how much of the $91 million it owes can be sent to Orange County.

"Helping people once they’re out of jail to re-enter the community as productive folks is vital to addressing recidivism rates and keeping families whole," Supervisor Patricia Bates said at the June 14 meeting.

Supervisor John Moorlach, who said earlier this month he objected to dipping into reserves to extend the program, said he will offer some alternative ways to pay for it elsewhere in the budget.

Supervisors will be voting on a $5.6 billion budget, a $146 million increase over fiscal year 2010-11, Kim said. That would allow county officials to add $1.7 million to reserves that stand at about $215 million, Kim said.

The state owes the county more than $91 million, but it is unclear what will happen with the state budget.

Of the $5.6 billion budget, $3.1 billion is reserved for the general fund and $663 million is put aside for core county services, Kim said.

While other municipalities are struggling with huge budget gaps, Orange County is able to balance its budget and save a little more for a rainy day, Moorlach said.

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OC supervisors to consider bigger budget

On Tuesday the Orange County Board of Supervisors considered approving a budget that increases spending by 2.7 percent over the current fiscal year, at a time when most municipal governments are cutting costs.

Orange County officials say the reason they have more money to spend and can balance the budget is that they made cuts in 2008 when the recession began.

"We started this game really early, and here we come up to the plate and we have a balanced budget," Supervisor John Moorlach said.

As county supervisors considered preliminary approval of the budget two weeks ago, they said they wanted to maintain part of an Orange County sheriff’s program that extends drug treatment to inmates after they are released.

O.C. Budget Director Frank Kim found $450,000 in reserves to help pay for a six-month extension of the program. Sheriff’s officials had proposed cutting the in-custody and post-custody drug treatment program to save $2.2 million.

"Helping people once they’re out of jail to re-enter the community as productive folks is vital to addressing recidivism rates and keeping families whole," Supervisor Patricia Bates said at the June 14 meeting.

Supervisors will be voting on a $5.6 billion budget, a $146 million increase over fiscal year 2010-11.

City News Service contributed to story

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Orange County supervisors approve $5.6 billion budget, 2.7 percent bigger than last year

Susan Valot

Orange County supervisors approved a budget today that increases spending 2.7 percent at a time when most local governments are shrinking. This is the first time in years that Orange County’s budget will grow.

The supervisors approved the $5.6 billion budget on a 4-1 vote, with Supervisor Shawn Nelson the lone no vote. Nelson did not say why he opposed the budget.

The budget for the next fiscal year is about $146 million more than last year’s. The budget calls for adding $1.7 million to reserves that total about $215 million.

It hasn’t returned to pre-recession levels. But as county revenues start to look up, the supervisors will put $3.1 billion into the general fund for a rainy day – something most states and cities haven’t been able to do. They’ll also put aside $663 million for core county services.

While other municipalities are struggling with huge budget gaps, Orange County was able to balance its budget and save a little more for a rainy day, Supervisor John Moorlach said.

"We have been gliding down and when you look at the headlines from counties around the state, we’re an anomaly," Moorlach said. "That’s an important story to tell… We’ve done it by starting early."

Orange County Board Chairman Bill Campbell agreed.

"It would have been easier on everybody if we kept saying it’ll get better," Campbell said of the county’s decision to begin making cuts several years ago. "That’s what happened to the state."

Orange County’s budget does not include any furloughs or layoffs this coming fiscal year. The big concern is the state, though. It already owes the county more than $91 million. With the state budget in limbo, it’s not clear how much of that money the county would get – or if California lawmakers will make future cuts that’ll affect counties.

The reason Orange County has more money to spend and can balance the 2011-12 budget is that officials made cuts in 2006, even before the 2008 economic downturn, they say.

As county supervisors considered preliminary approval of the budget two weeks ago, they said they wanted to keep part of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department program for inmates after their release. So budget director Frank Kim found $450,000 in reserves to help extend an agreement with the Phoenix House for six months. The sheriff’s department proposed cutting inmate treatment programs to save $2.2 million.

Other addiction treatment programs are available to inmates, but some recovering addicts told supervisors at their meeting two weeks ago that the Phoenix House program was especially helpful. County officials are waiting on the state to pass a budget to see how much money they will have for similar programs.

"Helping people once they’re out of jail to re-enter the community as productive folks is vital to addressing recidivism rates and keeping families whole," Supervisor Patricia Bates said at the June 14 meeting.

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O.C. supervisors approve 2.7 percent bigger budget

By WIRE SERVICES

Orange County supervisors Tuesday approved a budget that increases spending 2.7 percent at a time when most municipal governments are shrinking.

The supervisors approved the $5.6 billion budget on a 4-1, with Supervisor Shawn Nelson the lone dissenter. Nelson did not say why he opposed the budget. The spending plan represents a $146 million increase over fiscal 2010-11, budget director Frank Kim said. The budget calls for adding $1.7 million to reserves that total about $215 million, he said.

The reason Orange County has more money to spend and can balance the 2011-12 budget is that officials went about making cuts in 2006, even before the 2008 economic downturn, they say.

As as county supervisors considered preliminary approval of the budget two weeks ago, they said they wanted to keep part of sheriff’s department program for inmates after their release. So Kim found $450,000 in reserves to help extend an agreement with the Phoenix House for six months. The sheriff’s department proposed cutting inmate treatment programs to save $2.2 million.

Other addiction treatment programs are available to inmates, but some recovering addicts told supervisors at their meeting two weeks ago that the Phoenix House program was especially helpful. County officials are waiting on the state to pass a budget to see how much money they will have for similar programs.

"Helping people once they’re out of jail to re-enter the community as productive folks is vital to addressing recidivism rates and keeping families whole," Supervisor Patricia Bates said at the June 14 meeting.

The state owes the county more than $91 million, according to Kim, who said a tentative agreement on the state budget could be reached Tuesday.

Of the $5.6 billion budget, $3.1 billion is reserved for the general fund, and $663 million is put aside for core county services, Kim said.

While other municipalities are struggling with huge budget gaps, Orange County was able to balance its budget and save a little more for a rainy day, Supervisor John Moorlach said.

"We have been gliding down and when you look at the headlines from counties around the state, we’re an anomaly," Moorlach said. "That’s an important story to tell… We’ve done it by starting early."

Orange County Board Chairman Bill Campbell agreed.

"It would have been easier on everybody if we kept saying it’ll get better," Campbell said of the county’s decision to begin making cuts several years ago. "That’s what happened to the state."

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OC Board of Supervisors approve bigger budget

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/orange_county&id=8219112

Eileen Frere

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) — The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a new $5.6 billion budget on Tuesday that does not dip into county reserves, require major cuts or layoffs.

At a time when most municipal governments are shrinking, the county balanced a budget that increases spending 2.7 percent.

"We are an anomaly that we are balanced and are actually putting some money into reserves," Supervisor John Moorlach said.

Nearly $2 million will be added to reserves, which would raise the total to about $215 million.

Instead of slashing, the budget sees nearly $150 million more in spending than during the fiscal year that’s coming to an end.

Officials said they managed to do it by taking an aggressive approach when the economy started to slow in 2008.

It has helped. But it hasn’t been easy.

In 2009, the Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens cut her command staff by more than 40 percent to save investigators jobs. She also re-organized the sheriff’s department three times.

"We have cut over this whole period of time about $53 million dollars," Hutchens said. "It’s been very painful but it forced us to look for different ways of doing business. The challenge for public safety was to make those cuts and not impact the person on the street."

Supervisors say there is some uncertainty in Orange County with the state budget and rising pension costs.

The state owes Orange County more than $90 million. It’s not clear exactly when the state will reimburse the county.

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Budget heightens spending, hinges on state proposal

California targets $48 million that county receives from vehicle license fees.

Kimberly Edds

Orange County supervisors approved a $5.6 billion budget Tuesday which increases spending 2.7 percent over the current fiscal year even as many other counties are making dramatic cuts and laying off employees to survive rough economic times.

The celebration was short-lived.

Just hours after the vote, Orange County lawmakers got word that the state budget proposal is targeting $48 million that Orange County receives from California vehicle license fees as part of a guarantee while the county pays off its bankruptcy debt.  Suddenly what was a balanced budget threatens to be $48 million in the hole.

“The loss of revenue would force the county to make major program cuts that would affect public safety programs in the Sheriff’s Department, Probation Department and Office of the District Attorney,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Campbell said in a prepared statement.

“At its core, this will mean the county will have to close jail beds, reduce the number of prosecutors in courtrooms and close juvenile detention facilities. It would also mean significant cuts to critical public health programs including community clinics and social services. This action threatens the viability of core safety net services at a time when people need these services most of all.”

The County’s 2011-12 budget marks the first time in three years that the county didn’t have to dip into reserves to balance the budget. There are also no layoffs, no furloughs and no devastating cuts – a testament, officials say, to the aggressive approach the county took when the economy began to sour in 2008. The county has axed more than 1,000 positions over the last three years and cut 5 percent from department operating costs every year since 2008.

The economy remains capricious but sales tax revenues have been so strong over the past year, the county was able to repay what it took out of the reserves for 2010-11. In fact, officials said, the county expects to increase the net general fund reserve by $19.4 million, raising reserve funds to $216.9 million by June 2012.

But all that depends heavily on how the state budget plays out.

“We’ve been doing the right thing,” Campbell said in an interview. “We’ve been cutting for the last four years so we could be in this position.”

“I do feel like we’re being punished,” he added. “I don’t think punishment is the intent, it’s just where the state can grab money.”

Supervisors were even able to give the Sheriff’s Department $450,000 for a six-month extension to a drug rehabilitation program that helps inmates combat drug addiction problems while behind bars and after they are released. Sheriff’s officials had suggested eliminating the program to save $2.2 million.

“When you look at the headlines of counties across the state we are an anomaly that we are balanced and actually putting money into reserves,” Vice Chairman John Moorlach said.  Of the county’s $5.6 billion budget, $3.1 billion is reserved for the general fund and $663 million is put aside for core county services, county Budget Director Frank Kim said during Tuesday’s budget discussion.

The state owes the county more than $91 million, but it is unclear what will happen with the state budget and how quickly the state will reimburse the county for costs  such as social services. The county was looking to close on a $150 million tax revenue note Friday to help bolster it in case the state delays payment, but the state budget proposal could also throw that into disarray, Campbell said.

County officials are also closely monitoring Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to release non-violent, non-sex offending prisoners from state facilities and make them the responsibility of local jails and sheriffs.

Brown reached a budget deal with Democrats Monday that assumes $4 billion in new revenue in addition to $6.6 billion in unexpected revenue forecast last month. But steep cuts to education and other state services would kick in if the money fails to materialize.

Republicans have decried the plan.

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OC Supervisors Approve 2.7 Percent Bigger Budget

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2011/06/28/oc-supervisors-approve-2-7-percent-bigger-budget/

Orange County supervisors Tuesday approved a budget that increases spending 2.7 percent, but hours later were apprised of the prospect of losing significant funding from the state that could result in draconian cuts in services.

The supervisors approved the $5.6 billion budget on a 4-1 vote, with Supervisor Shawn Nelson as the lone dissenter.

Second District Supervisor John Moorlach says Orange County’s ability to boost its dollars is because of earlier cutbacks that began even before the height of the economic downt

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