Antonovich rips state spending

By Jonathan Randles
Signal Staff Writer
Posted: May 26, 2010 7:17 p.m.
Updated: May 27, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich compared California’s handling of its $20-billion deficit to “riding a dead horse” at the second annual State of the County luncheon on Wednesday.

“When you discover you’re riding a dead horse the best advice is to dismount,” Antonovich said. “But in government, in corporate America, they use other strategies. They buy a stronger whip. … They appoint a committee to study the horse.”

Antonovich, who represents the Santa Clarita Valley, said the state should consider going to a part-time legislature, eliminating some government agencies, cutting taxes and easing regulations on private businesses as ways to bridge the multibillion-dollar shortfall.

He and Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley addressed hundreds of community leaders at the Hyatt Regency Valencia. The two described the county’s successes and challenges in the upcoming year at the event, hosted by the Santa Clarita Valley and Castaic chambers of commerce.

Cooley said the Santa Clarita Valley’s current courthouse is insufficient to meet the needs of its current population — much less support the valley’s expected growth. He said a new courthouse must be built in a timely manner — a task state officials are in the process of approving.

During his speech, Antonovich said the William S. Hart Union High School District is “obligated” to choose a site to build a new Castaic high school as quickly as possible.

“We all know (Castaic) residents want and deserve their own high school, and it’s well past time for the Hart school board to make that decision,” Antonovich said. “Hart board members have an obligation to make a decision as soon as possible.”
District board members late last year narrowed down the list of potential sites for a high school to the Hasley Sloan and Romero Canyon properties in Castaic, according to past Signal reports.

Board members have already hired consultants to study the two sites and hope to open a high school 2013. Antonovich said he would expedite issuing construction permits after a site is picked.

Meanwhile, thanks to the sluggish economy and cuts in state funding, county officials will have almost a billion dollars less in the next fiscal year to pay for county services.

Los Angeles County’s budget will decrease by about $885 million in fiscal year 2010-201l due to decreased sales and property tax revenue, Antonovich said. But compared to the city of Los Angeles and the state, which are facing larger budget deficits, the county and the Santa Clarita Valley is in relatively good shape, he said.

And despite the dire fiscal situation, there have been no cuts of sheriff’s patrols in unincorporated county areas, Antonovich said.

But if the state continues to give less funding to the county in the future, more cuts would likely have to be made, he said.

“Through the county’s fiscal prudence we were able to save for a rainy day,” Antonovich said. “But we were not able to save for a tsunami.”

To view The-Signal article click here.

As Smokey the Bear says,
“Only You…can prevent forest fires!”