A frustrated Ventura County Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday to proceed to adopt a budget, even though the impasse over money in Sacramento means much of the work probably will have to be redone.
County Counsel James L. McBride told the board that it would be illegal to delay past the Aug. 31 deadline, as board Chairwoman Madge Schaefer had proposed.
Budget hearings will start Monday.
Unless the deadlock between Gov. George Deukmejian and the Legislature is cleared by Monday, it will be the first time the county has had to prepare its own budget before the state, said Chief Administrative Officer Richard Wittenberg. Normally the state budget is finished by July 1.
"There is no way we can do a budget of any importance," Wittenberg said. Much of county government, including aid to the poor and disabled, depends on state money.
"Our budget is very precariously balanced," said Wittenberg, whose $680.7-million preliminary proposal for fiscal 1990-91 will be the starting point for the board's deliberations. "We cannot take another hit."
The current proposal, bolstered by higher than expected property tax revenues, is 11.1% over the previous fiscal year's $612.4 million.
Penny Bohannon, the county manager of legislative affairs, said Wittenberg's new budget could be cut by as much as $5 million if Deukmejian can balance the state budget without raising taxes.
"That could devastate certain programs," she said. She said she had been told by James E. Isom, director of the Public Social Services Agency, that such a reduction would seriously affect 30,000 county residents who receive welfare payments. She said it would also affect other services to the poor.
The supervisors' mood was downcast.
"We would be doing a budget without any information," Supervisor Susan K. Lacey said in joining those calling for a delay. "This could be very confusing to the public" because cuts made in September "could wipe out a program."
Supervisor Maggie H. Erickson added: "I don't want to be in a position of not being able to deliver, as the state has done."
The supervisors' discussion did have a light moment or two, including the following exchange:
Schaefer: "Perhaps we could stop the calendar or the clock, the way they do in Sacramento."
John K. Flynn: "Do you plan to climb the wall and hold the clock's hands back?"
"No, but I could unplug it."
Although some members wanted to delay, they voted unanimously to start the process Monday after hearing from McBride.
Wittenberg and other officials sent sharply worded letters to the governor.
"It is time to share the pain. . . ." he wrote. "Counties cannot and should not continue to shoulder the lion's share of budget reductions."
Some welfare recipients announced that they will demonstrate at the County Government Center in Ventura on Thursday because they have not received their mid-July checks.
The county earlier this month approved a $2.4-million emergency loan to make the payments.
Bohannon said she expects next week's hearings to be completed by Thursday. Two supervisors, Erickson and James R. Dougherty, make up the board's finance subcommittee. The entire board normally sits at the hearings.