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OC Board of Supervisors approve bigger budget

June 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
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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