Late Wednesday and Thursday the press this week reported that the Superior Court ruled against Orange County, in the trial in which the State of California claimed that our Supervisors had improperly diverted property tax revenues to the County budget. The result, unless the County successfully appeals that decision, is that the County owes the State millions of dollars it had diverted and cannot anticipate such largesse in future years.
Reflective of the chaos present among the Supervisors on most any subject area one might choose, Moorlach, Nelson and Spitzer were apparently all too willing to get their names in the papers by giving immediate interviews to the press right after this court decision was announced. No corporate strategy was apparent, as these three Supervisors expressed “the-sky-has-fallen” sentiments, with some openly talking about layoffs and across-the-board budget cuts. Spitzer, naturally, took a jab at his predecessors, some of whom are still on the Board, for getting the County into this mess.
Employees were upset and fearful. Those who know how this Board works were again disgusted by what could only be described as a hysterical and chaotic reaction to an outcome that should not have been a surprise to anyone. Numerous people noted that it seemed to be the male members of the Board that had gone nuts, while the female members (Bates and Nguyen) did not join the hysterical men in feeding the media.
This morning, cooler heads are trying to prevail. The County’s brand new CEO Giancola and Board Chair Nelson, after a long sleepless night undoubtedly spent trying to figure out how to calm people down after the chaos created by the male Supes, issued a statement to the 17,000 county workforce that is clearly an attempt at damage control:
May 9, 2013
As you may know, the Orange County Superior Court issued a tentative ruling yesterday in the VLFAA-property tax case between the State of California, the County, and the Auditor-Controller. In that tentative ruling, the Court proposes to invalidate the Auditor-Controller’s upward adjustment of the County’s share of property taxes (VLFAA) to make up for the State’s 2011 take-away of Vehicle License Fees. If the tentative ruling becomes the court’s final ruling in spite of the County’s objections, it would of course be extremely disappointing to all of us here at the County. It is no secret that the financial impact would be substantial. We want to reassure each of you that the CEO’s office has been working diligently for many months to prepare alternatives for consideration by the Board of Supervisors, in addition to any appellate remedies that may be available. It is our hope that through the careful review of our existing contingency plans, we will be able to minimize the impacts to each department, each program and each employee.
While we know this news adds greater uncertainty during these already challenging times, we encourage you to be patient as the Board of Supervisors reviews its financial, operational, and legal options. The CEO’s office will be working with Department Heads to identify budget reductions. At this time, no layoff of personnel is being contemplated. Our goal for this process is to take a measured approach that moves us forward together.
Thank you for your continued commitment to the citizens we serve.
Chairman, Board of Supervisors
County Executive Officer
Better late than never, I guess…