In the midst of dramatic cuts across much of California, Orange County's budget director says that the county is actually in a strong fiscal place.
After four consecutive years of across-the-board cuts in all departments, Orange County Budget Office Director Frank Kim said the fiscal year 2012-13 recommended budget is balanced without major cuts.
“There are no layoffs," said Kim. "There’s no reductions in filled positions associated with this budget. Our recommendation really maintains existing staffing and service levels to the community.”
Kim said the $5.6 billion budget plan covers 17,210 county positions.
The county spending plan reflects the last four years of belt-tightening, which cut about 1,400 jobs, according to Kim — mostly through attrition and hiring freezes.
“We’ve done a good job of trying to contain costs," Kim said, "so in this upcoming year we have really no additional reductions.”
Kim said there are three key risks that could throw off the budget. One is the overall economy. Despite a conservative approach, the budget assumes moderate growth next year, followed by an increase in 2014.
The second risk is the state’s continuing budget crisis. Kim said the latest shortfall in the California state budget could trickle down to the county.
“Specifically with relation to AB 109 — the public safety realignment," said Kim. "We’re very concerned we could see reduced or insufficient funding.”
That’s the plan where the state sends prisoners convicted of lower-level offenses to county jails. Right now, Kim says Orange County has 776 of those offenders.
The third risk: pending lawsuits and claims against the county, the most significant being the state’s claim of vehicle license fees it says Orange County must fork over.
The amount in dispute: $73.5 million.
Budget hearings are scheduled June 12 and 13. The Orange County Board of Supervisors is expected to adopt the budget June 26.