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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional
Review / DEVELOPMENTS IN ORANGE, RIVERSIDE, SAN BERNARDINO
AND VENTURA COUNTIES

Officials Worried About County's Credit Rating

May 14, 1999

VENTURA — Some Ventura County officials are worried that the county's top credit rating could suffer from the fallout of its failed mental health merger.

A group of county officials will try to persuade agents at two major bond rating firms that the county is financially sound despite the five separate audits underway at its Behavioral Health Department and the Ventura County Medical Center.

A poor credit rating would make it more expensive for the county to borrow money.

In the past, the county's conservative investment approach and ability to maintain strong financial reserves gave it a good credit rating. That rating is jeopardized by the disastrous outcome of its attempt last year to merge its mental health and social services departments into one superagency.

After the federal government warned that the reorganization violated billing rules, the county rescinded the merger in December.

Since then, the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration and the state Department of Mental Health have launched audits of the Behavioral Health's Department's billing and financial practices to determine whether Ventura County has complied with requirements.

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