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Payroll Files May Aid Child-Support Cases

Law enforcement: Plan would open county personnel records to prosecutors seeking 'deadbeat' parents.

September 24, 1997|SHELBY GRAD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a proposal that could open payroll records of the county's employees, retirees and everyone who receives county contracts to prosecutors looking for parents who owe child-support payments.

Supervisor Jim Silva proposed the measure as a way of helping find "deadbeat" parents and providing children with the financial support they need.

"I'm concerned because many parents who don't provide support often have families who go on some type of [welfare]," Silva said. "That ends up costing the taxpayers."

The board unanimously directed the county counsel's office and other departments to craft an ordinance that would allow prosecutors to match information on child-support collection cases against the county's personnel database.

Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who has repeatedly pressed the district attorney's office to improve its family support collections, said the county should ask other counties and the state to adopt similar ordinances.

Spitzer said the county is seeking legislation that would allow counties to use private firms to help collect child support. He suggested seeking additional legislative support for rules that would open up other government payroll records to prosecutors.

A report released earlier this month by three children's advocacy groups ranked Orange County 45th among California's 58 counties in child-support collections.

In other action, the board awarded a $5.4-million contract for a badly needed dredging of Upper Newport Bay. The project calls for 260 days of continuous dredging along the estuary, according to a memo from Supervisor Thomas W. Wilson, who has been championing the project.

The dredging is needed to clear the bay of tons of sand and silt that threaten to turn the estuary into a meadow, harming wildlife such as the spotted sand bass.

The bay is also home to six federally protected or endangered species.

The county will use some reserve funds to cover the $5.4-million price, but officials said they hoped to eventually be reimbursed by the state or federal government.

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