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California Briefing / Los Angeles

Hiring freeze approved for county workers

February 11, 2009|Garrett Therolf and Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Los Angeles County supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a hiring freeze throughout the county, excluding critical health and safety positions, and severely clamped down on the purchase of services, supplies and fixed assets. The vote essentially formalized a policy that, with some exceptions, has been in place for months as the county grapples with the economic downturn.

Aides were unable to estimate how much money will be saved, but said the decision was needed as the county braces for the delay of $106 million in state payments by Controller John Chiang beginning Friday.

The county also is battling a proposal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that would defer $1.4 billion in state payments through August.

The supervisors voted 4 to 1 on Tuesday to join a lawsuit challenging Chiang's authority to delay payments for welfare, food stamps, Medi-Cal and other services. Orange County supervisors also voted Tuesday to join the suit.

Last week, L.A. County supervisors asked the county chief executive and counsel to investigate how much the county sends to the state in payments and reimbursements, and whether they could legally withhold those payments.

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