After several booming years of big tax revenues produced by Orange County's red-hot housing market, the slowing real estate business is forcing county supervisors to make tough choices in their spending plan for the coming year, according to county documents made public on Monday.
While overall spending on programs, services and projects is expected to increase 6.2% -- to $5.9 billion -- property tax revenue, which provides the bulk of the county's general fund money, is expected to grow less than 3%, sales tax revenue will grow only 2.5%, and vehicle license fees are expected to decline 1.6%.
As a result, some county programs may be on the chopping block in the new financial plan to be adopted next month.
County staff has recommended doing away with 16 counseling positions in the drug court program. Shifting the counselors to other county services, the staff report says, would save $1.3 million. The county may also cut off $3.5 million in annual supplemental funding for emergency medical services just agreed to in December. The money funds pediatric and adult trauma care, payments to doctors who provide emergency care and other emergency medical costs.