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County Government Needs Downsizing

July 04, 1993

* We must turn the present budget crisis into an opportunity for reform of county government. We can restore the traditional role of county government as a human services provider and return the responsibility of public works improvements to the cities. This approach is termed "downsizing" county government.

I recommend that we not give counties additional powers or means of taxation. In the case of Los Angeles County, we have found a gross misuse of public funds, including unnecessary office remodeling and extravagant use of limousines.

Some counties are too large and cumbersome and are beset with redundancy and duplication. They have failed to meet the task of providing community services such as parks, libraries, sheriff, planning and civil engineering. Such services were intended to be delivered and paid for at the local level. This intention should be restored. If we downsize the scope of counties' responsibilities, they will be more effective at delivering the services they were originally intended to provide.

By downsizing, we can return to the days of "poor laws," when the county's principal responsibility was to provide regional services such as asylums, hospitals, child protection and welfare.

A good example is Ventura County and its "orderly development" policy, under which development is permitted only within city boundaries. It enables cities to make planning decisions regarding police and fire services, recreation and library facilities, public facility projects, flood control and local road construction.

Under this philosophy, Ventura County encourages land developers to annex their properties to cities before seeking permits. This procedure ensures that both present and future residents will continue to enjoy high standards of public service.

JILL KLAJIC

Santa Clarita

The writer is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council.

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