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Local News in Brief : Countywide : Cost Containments Kept to Meet Budget Needs

Freezes on hiring and travel for county agencies were extended Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors in a bid to keep a fragile budget intact through June.

The board also continued a freeze on all equipment purchases, except in emergencies, and four specific county departments were ordered to draw up plans to avoid budget overruns in the final 3 months of fiscal 1988-89.

The sheriff-coroner, social services, public defender and superior courts have been spending more than budgeted, according to John Sibley, associate county administrator. In each case, however, Sibley said, the cost overruns were a result of unexpectedly large caseloads, not mismanagement or uncontrolled spending.

“For example, the sheriff has no choice but to house, feed and process inmates, and arrests are way up,” Sibley said. “It is impossible to predict those kinds of trends.”

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Cost-containment efforts in those departments, Sibley said, will probably not result in any layoffs. He predicted that each department will meet or come “very close” to meeting its projected budget.

In January, the county faced a $23-million budget deficit, and considered laying off up to 1,200 employees. But by drawing on reserves, and tapping state money, officials contend that the county will narrowly finish with a balanced budget this year.


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