ORANGE COUNTY PERSPECTIVE : Spending a Little, Saving a Lot


Spending money on unnecessary extras would send the wrong signal during these tough budgetary times in Orange County, which is facing $67.7 million in cuts under a $3.5-billion budget. But the $5,000 the county has budgeted for a management seminar is no “unnecessary extra,” and officials shouldn’t be intimidated by citizen complaints about the outlay.

Top managers of the county are being urged to attend--at their own expense--a Sept. 25-27 conference that Orange County is giving in Palm Desert.

The county will pay only for speakers and other program costs.


That is money well spent. Consider the benefits in bringing management together for learning how to maximize dwindling resources. Such planning is especially important now that Orange County is facing reducing its 16,000-person staff by about 350.

Palm Desert was selected for the conference because it is easily accessible by automobile and because fall is off-season in the desert, due to continuing high temperatures.

That means hotel accommodations, which will cost each manager $155 for a double or $230 for a single, are much cheaper than at other times of the year.

It’s true that such a conference could be held in Orange County. But that would not eliminate the cost of speakers or other program expenses. Besides, as County Administrative Officer Ernie Schneider pointed out, holding a conference closer to home might reduce participation in less formal evening events. These give managers an opportunity to discuss the day’s happenings and also to get to know one another. As in business, good working relationships among county managers can facilitate problem solving.

The bill for the annual management conference once was footed entirely by the county. That would be an unwise expenditure today, given the climate of cutbacks.

But if managers are willing to pay their own way, it’s appropriate for the county to provide them with a program designed to help them plan for the tough times ahead.