Despite Poor Economy, County Ready to Approve Balanced Budget

While city and state officials struggle with massive shortfalls and planned cutbacks, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today was ready to approve a balanced $22.7 billion budget that does not call for employee layoffs or furloughs.

Officials were ready to take credit for the balanced budget, citing “conservative” policies during the past decade in which the county has had its “act together.”

However, those same officials warned that this budget could change if the state decides to take money from local governments to close its own massive deficit.

“Continued conservative budget policies and practices over the last 10 years have served us well and have placed us in a stronger position to weather the current economic downturn,” County Chief Executive Officer William Fujioka said.

Supervisor Don Knabe, who chairs the board, agreed. “We have our act together. We know what shortfalls we have to take care of internally.”

“We had put money aside for a rainy day,” Knabe said. “We saw property taxes going down. We saw sales taxes going down. So today -- or if not today, then sometime this week -- we will adopt a budget that's balanced, and that will be somewhat less painful than what it could've been.”

Fujioka said county officials closed a projected $300.4 million deficit with $107.2 million in budget curtailments, $115.5 million in one-time bridge funding and $77.7 million in federal stimulus funding.

The savings were achieved by requiring an average 8 percent cut in the budgets of all county departments while continuing a system-wide hiring freeze, except for critical health and safety positions, according to officials. Non- essential purchases of services, supplies and fixed assets have also been barred.

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