It’s the second consecutive meeting where they fail to reach an agreement

BY IMRAN GHORI
STAFF WRITER
ighori@pe.com

Published: 06 December 2011 07:32 PM

San Bernardino County remains unable to pay some of its bills after a second straight meeting where supervisors failed to reach agreement on budget adjustments.

During an often heated debate Tuesday, board Chairwoman Josie Gonzales and Supervisor Janice Rutherford accused Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt of holding the budget hostage by refusing to vote for it.

All four supervisors’ votes are needed because Supervisor Neil Derry must recuse himself from budget votes involving federal funds because he was charged with violating campaign contribution limits in April.

“This is not the way we do business,” Gonzales said. “We can’t leverage what we want against other items if we don’t get what we want.”

Mitzelfelt accused his colleagues of being unwilling to compromise and support an interim solution he proposed that would have allowed the board to fund some of the more urgent items.

“I certainly don’t want to hold up items that would affect the health and safety of employees or residents,” he said.

At issue is the usually routine first-quarter budget update that included $52.4 million in budget adjustments. The funds include payments to vendors who have already completed work, equipment purchases for departments such as the registrar of voters, already-approved lawsuit settlements and $684,772 in federal crime grants to 16 cities.

At the board’s Nov. 15 meeting, Gonzales, Rutherford and Supervisor Gary Ovitt voted in favor of the changes but Mitzelfelt voted no, citing his displeasure over a separate board vote cutting the amount of supplemental funding he receives to staff his office.

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