1989: THE YEAR AHEAD : COUNTY ADMINISTRATION : Budget Squeeze Puts County in a Pinch

Orange County has had an increasingly tight budget for several years, but 1989 is shaping up as one of the worst years financially that the county has seen.

In just the first weeks of the new year, county managers will announce whether they are going to have to lay off as many as several hundred county employees just to squeeze through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

And another fiscal ogre on the horizon will be the union contracts for about 12,000 county employees that are due on the opening of the next fiscal year July 1.

The last time the county negotiated with its unions in 1987, thousands of employees joined work slowdowns and threatened strikes before the new contracts were approved more than 4 months late.


In 1989, the financially strapped county is also going to have to find money for new jail construction that has proved to be elusive since the supervisors voted 3 to 2 to build a 6,000-bed jail in Gypsum Canyon in July, 1987.

The new jail is projected to cost at least $700 million to build and about $90 million per year to operate. County administrators are researching the possibility of asking voters in June, 1990, to approve a half-cent sales tax to pay for the facility.

The county is also planning to expand its Theo Lacy branch jail in Orange next year for about $45 million. And the supervisors will have to decide whether to proceed with another $140-million jail they have proposed to build near Anaheim Stadium.

The Board of Supervisors will note the beginning of the new year on Tuesday when Chairman Harriett M. Wieder will give her state of the county address and then turn over her leadership position to the new chairman of the board, Supervisor Thomas F. Riley.