With little fanfare, the Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a $2.9-billion 1989-90 budget and voted to end certain spending limits. But some officials cautioned supervisors to expect possible financial problems later in the year.
"We still have incredible difficulties to face," County Administrative Officer Larry Parrish told the five-member board.
Parrish explained that the uncertainty stems from the lack of final figures from Sacramento as to the amount of state funding for some of the county's agencies.
However, at Tuesday's meeting, county officials said they felt comfortable enough about the budget to ask the supervisors to end a freeze on hiring and to drop limits on travel and on buying new equipment. The supervisors voted unanimously to accept those recommendations.
The hiring freeze was one of several drastic measures undertaken by county agencies to avert a projected multimillion-dollar deficit in the 1989-90 fiscal year.
As recently as two weeks ago, county officials were scrambling to offset an expected $25-million deficit. But when the county auditor closed the books on the 1988-89 fiscal year, there was an unexpected surplus of $11 million.
Combined with other cutbacks, including an edict directing every department to absorb a total of $13 million in salary increases that averaged 4.3%, supervisors on Tuesday were able to approve a budget that, for now, is balanced.
During Tuesday's hearing, the last of three days devoted to the 1989-90 budget, supervisors called for Parrish to research several changes that could be added to the spending document later in the year.
Law Enforcement Boost
Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez called for more patrol cars for the Sheriff's Department and the recruitment of more community-service officers in southern Orange County to help regular police officers file routine reports.
Vasquez also requested that the county recognize department directors who help save dollars.
"We should have incentives to underspend," Vasquez said.
In reply to health-care officials, who warned that the county was not placing a high enough priority on medical care, Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder suggested that the county develop a prenatal health task force.