Orange County Seal

Posted: Monday, May 13, 2013 1:28 pm | Updated: 7:15 pm, Mon May 13, 2013.
By NORBERTO SANTANA JR.

While Orange County finance managers Monday unveiled a largely status-quo, $5.4-billion budget for fiscal year 2013-14, they acknowledged that plans could change depending on the impact of a judge’s ruling against the county involving $73 million in property taxes.

The response to the ruling could include a mix of budget cuts, drawing on reserves and increases in revenue streams like the public safety tax.

It also could include layoffs, but finance officials say it’s too early to tell.

“For now, it’s a lot of monitoring, less action,” said county Budget Manager Frank Kim during Monday morning’s budget briefing for reporters.

Kim will spend the rest of the day briefing members of the Orange County Board of Supervisors on the proposed budget.

County officials have been locked in a dispute with state officials since 2011, when Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget staff identified a glitch in Orange County’s allocation of vehicle license fees and took away more than $50 million in property taxes to balance accounts.

Orange County officials reacted in January 2012 by coordinating with then Auditor-Controller David Sunstrom to withhold more than $73 million in property taxes.

State officials reacted to the Orange County money grab by going to court and winning a tentative ruling last week.

Meanwhile, the county’s political leaders — including state Sen. Lou Correa; Nick Berardino; general manager of the Orange County Employees Association; and Board of Supervisors Chairman Shawn Nelson — have all shifted into high gear to work out a deal.

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