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‘We’re An Anomaly': OC To Boost Spending By $146M As LA County Struggles

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Election Returns

SANTA ANA (CBS) — The Board of Supervisors for Orange County on Tuesday gave its approval to a budget that marks a $146 million increase in spending heading into 2012.

The 2.7 percent hike in spending comes as Los Angeles County and other local municipalities are looking for ways to trim their budget with service cuts and layoffs.

Supervisors approved the $5.6 billion budget on a 4-1 vote, with Supervisor Shawn Nelson the lone dissenter. Nelson did not say why he opposed the budget.

Budget director Frank Kim said the budget calls for adding $1.7 million to reserves that total about $215 million.

So how where did all the cash come from?

County officials said they were already making cuts back in 2006 — before the 2008 economic downturn ever started.

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 as early as Tuesday.

$3.1 billion out of the $5.6 billion budget 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.”

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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