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Balancing County Budget

July 25, 1993

* It is difficult to tell whether Peter King's diatribe against the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (July 18) is deliberate misinformation or simply a case of willful ignorance.

Balancing the L.A. County budget is not a matter, as King suggests, of paring "a few hundred million dollars from a $13 billion budget." The actual working budget is only about $3 billion, because $10 billion of our expenditures consists primarily of federal or state subventions for health and welfare. In June the state took approximately 25% of this $3 billion in county revenues. As a result, those programs that are supported by the general fund--law enforcement, the coroner, parks and recreation, libraries, the museums, the Music Center, Descanso Gardens and the Arboretum--will be emasculated.

As a result of the state's confiscation of the local property taxes, Los Angeles County will lose $711 million this year, in addition to the $250 million that was taken from us last year. Only half of that would be offset by the extension of the one-half cent sales tax, but this depends on a vote of the people in November.

The property tax is supposed to be used for property-related services, such as police, fire protection, parks, etc. When developing the state '93-'94 budget, Gov. Pete Wilson and Speaker Willie Brown could have left the property tax for property-related services and used the sales tax revenue for education. To maintain public safety they then arrogantly told the voters to approve a permanent sales tax increase!

The most irresponsible omission from King's article was his failure to discuss the impact of illegal immigration on the county's budget. Illegal aliens and their children are imposing a $1.5 billion annual toll on Los Angeles County in educational, health, welfare and justice system costs. As long as the federal government turns its back on illegal immigration, which is an affront to all of those who waited patiently to immigrate legally, county taxpayers will subsidize the cost, at the expense of public safety, the coroner, libraries, parks and recreation, museums and our cultural centers.

MICHAEL D. ANTONOVICH

Supervisor, Fifth District

* I was appalled when I read (July 14) that the county overpaid $9 million in welfare services; the excuse being "an outdated computer and faulty procedures." If my husband and I underpaid our taxes or overcharged clients, there would be severe repercussion and stringent penalties. In this period of heavy cutbacks in library and educational services as well as lack of funds to increase the police force, I am wondering who is watching the store and protecting the taxpayer from these blatant abuses. It certainly is not our esteemed Board of Supervisors.

May I ask: Exactly what is their function and what are they supervising?

ELEANOR LAWRENCE

Malibu

* Now let's see here. Suppose next year the county supervisors have their unanimous hearts set on doing everything they can to promote civil unrest in our city. How could they go about doing it most efficiently?

Well, they might focus their primary attention on the inner city, where residents already feel forgotten. Maybe they could close down some libraries for a start. Kids reading books often don't have the time or inclination to get out and make trouble. Next, they might look at recreational facilities like swimming pools, where kids can work off excess energy in a wholesome way. Shut them down too, and then fill the pools with sand to make sure they won't open again any time soon. To save even more, close some parks and health care facilities and you're off to a great start.

But hey, wait a minute. This is no gag. The Los Angeles County supervisors have all those ideas under serious consideration. After all they've got to cut some dollars out of the budget somehow, and this way, many voters will never feel a thing.

At least not until the next time our taxes are raised to pay for more police!

BUD BLITZER

Los Angeles

* Everyone talks about our financial woes and that due to budget cuts, more county health facilities will be closing. I do not have health insurance and have no county health coverage because I figure I can pay the $30, $40, or $60 that county facilities charge per visit. I always pay the day of each consultation. What happens just about every time without failure? I'm always being billed for services once, twice, etc.

Just recently I received two bills amounting to some $1,525 for doctor visits as far back as July 1, 1992. Thank goodness I have all my canceled personal checks but I am still being inconvenienced because I must pay for photocopies of the checks and my own postage. What about the cost for all the thousands of bills that are being erroneously sent out to other people? Who picks up the tab for that? Someone is not doing his job properly. No wonder we're in such a financial crisis.

ROSAURA ORTIZ

Alhambra

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