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Loan to O.C.'s Planners Is Now a Grant

May 21, 2003|Stuart Pfeifer | Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to convert an $8-million emergency loan it gave to the planning department last year into a grant that will never be repaid to the county.

The board authorized the loan after discovering that the department was losing $500,000 a month and had depleted what was once an $18-million reserve.

Layoffs and an increase in service fees have helped the department come close to balancing its budget.

Tom Wilson, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said the planning department by law cannot make a profit, so it won't be able to raise the money to repay the emergency loan. Instead, the department can charge only enough in fees to recover its costs.

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