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ORANGE COUNTY PERSPECTIVE : Options, No Answers

August 17, 1995

Nine months into the county's bankruptcy, it is disappointing, to say the least, that the Board of Supervisors still does not seem to know what it wants to do.

The board on Tuesday endorsed a recovery plan laden with options that left many questions unanswered. The irony is that while Orange County says it wants to solve the problem itself, officials in Sacramento already are complaining about the county's lack of consensus. This seems to invite what the county has most sought to avoid--state control.

First, the board was either lukewarm or openly opposed to the most sensible route to recovery, a new short-term tax. After the failure of Measure R, it was really up to the opponents of the failed tax measure to propose exactly how to make up the shortfall. Now, however, the board proposes a shell game, taking from those owed, and reckons with the likelihood of more painful cuts in services by telling Sacramento to make the decisions.

It wants the Legislature to choose between six plans that would take existing sales tax revenue from the Orange County Transportation Authority, or some variation of that approach coupled with raids on special districts and even cities' revenue. The county by now should have communicated to the public a clearer sense of the actual fiscal resources of the various agencies being raided and it should have spelled out exactly what the pain would be.

Unfortunately, the county's so-called recovery plan demonstrates how little really has been resolved.

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