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County Doubles Projected Loss on El Toro Use

Continuing activities will mean a $4-million shortfall over two years, officials now estimate, but new revenue should help bottom line.

November 22, 2000|JEAN O. PASCO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Orange County could face shortfalls of $4 million a year over the next two years to keep open the former Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro--a deficit nearly double that predicted in May.

The gloomy figures take into account use of the base golf course, expanding storage space for recreational vehicles and opening up another 39 buildings and facilities for lease over the next 16 months, said Robert Richardson, the county's interim manager for El Toro.

However, county officials expect the deficit to shrink by adding such activities as motion-picture filming, auto shows and other one-time events on the base, he said. The Irvine Auto Center also wants to lease 10 acres for a large parking lot near the San Diego Freeway.

Supervisors, who in the past have been reluctant to commit general funds to pay for base activities, unanimously approved Tuesday the two-year business plan for El Toro. They agreed to set aside $5 million in general revenue to cover future El Toro shortfalls.

The loss figures were the first assessment of El Toro's bottom line since the departure in June of County Executive Officer Jan Mittermeier. The month before Mittermeier resigned, she estimated that activities at the base could drain between $1.3 million and $2.2 million a year from the county's general fund.

The new figures show that even with some Navy assistance, the county could lose $3.95 million by June 30, if no new money is brought in. The loss for the following fiscal year would be about the same.

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