MOORLACH UPDATE — GPS Devices — September 16, 2013

The Fountain Valley Patch provides another Board of Supervisors vote made during last week’s meeting in the first piece below. I requested that the Board give the new provider a couple of years to transition into the role before going out for bid, which was approved.

The Bond Buyer provides its story on AB 701 in the second piece below (see MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 701 — September 14, 2013 for a better accounting of the math). There is one correction to note: former Assemblyman Jose Solorio is a registered Democrat.

Orange County Hires New Co. To Monitor Probationers After Previous One Didn’t Report Violations

The county terminated its contract with longtime vendor, Sentinel Offender Services LLC, last month because an audit found multiple issues with keeping track of convicts out of custody.

Posted by Renee Schiavone (Editor)

Orange County supervisors this week approved the hiring of a new company to oversee people on probation.

By a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved hiring Corrective Solutions.

The county terminated its contract with longtime vendor, Sentinel Offender Services LLC, last month because an audit found multiple issues with keeping track of convicts out of custody. CorrectiveSolutions was the second-best bidder the last time the county put out bids for the job.

CorrectiveSolutions will stay on the job through June 30, and county officials have two one-year options.

Sentinel held the contract for 17 years, said Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who spearheaded the push for an audit of the company when he received reports of probationers repeatedly violating terms of their release, but were not reported to the Orange County Probation Department.

The county anticipates receiving $382,555 in revenue as a result of the contract, less than the $484,570 anticipated from the agreement with Sentinel.

Spitzer pushed for county officials to seek new requests for proposals in January to "test the marketplace," because he suspects many other potential contractors backed off the last time the job was up for bid.

The other bidders might have thought Sentinel had "cornered the market" in Orange County, Spitzer said.

Chris Bieber, the deputy chief of the Probation Department, told the supervisors there are 250 people being monitored by the department.

Bieber told the supervisors that requesting another bid so soon from CorrectiveSolutions could pose a "significant burden" on the company.

Supervisor John Moorlach praised Spitzer for taking the lead on monitoring Sentinel’s performance.

"I want to thank Supervisor Spitzer for doing an incredible job on this," Moorlach said.

Spitzer raised the issue of problems with Sentinel at a board meeting on June 25. The company was hired to supervise and manage convicts out of jail on electronic monitoring and home confinement programs.

Probation Department officials alerted supervisors in a written update on July 25 that they continued to have issues with Sentinel failing to track probationers with GPS devices between July 1 and July 15.

Many of the violations involved probationers who failed alcohol tests, Spitzer said.

– City News Service.

State Legislators Pass Bill to Restore Orange County Funding

by: Keeley Webster

A measure introduced by an Orange County, Calif., lawmaker to restore funding the county lost during changes in apportionment of a state vehicle license fee passed the state legislature.

Gov. Jerry Brown has until Oct. 13 to act on the bill.

Assembly Bill 701 by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, would settle a long-term vehicle license fee adjustment amount formula dispute between Orange County and the state by restoring $53 million in annual funding.

"AB 701 is bipartisan solution that ensures continued budget stability for Orange County and prevents additional cuts to county public safety programs in this fiscal year," Quirk-Silva said.

The county will still have to repay $148 million in disputed property taxes it seized over a two year period after the state took the vehicle license fee funds under legislation passed during the 2011 session.

If Brown signs the bill, the county now has six years to repay the $148 million it seized after it lost a lawsuit against the Department of Finance over the disputed property taxes in May, rather than the three-year period ordered by the court.

The bill sets payments up to start with $5 million in fiscal year 2014-15 and balloon to $55 million by fiscal 2018-19 for the final payment.

Quirk-Silva’s bill would restore $53 million in annual funding, less than the $73 million county officials say they lost after the change. The $73 million figure is what the county used to decide how much in local property taxes to hold onto over the two years over the state’s objection.

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach said supervisors voted in support of Quirk-Silva’s bill, although it doesn’t restore the total estimated amount the county has lost to the state.

The bill also trades $50 million in funding for local schools that the state would have paid to Orange County K-12 schools through the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund for the $53 million in vehicle license fee money. So, the legislation only costs the state $3 million.

The county will now get a formula-based dollar-for-dollar disbursement of the state’s vehicle license fee adjustment funds like other counties, said Shawn Nelson, chair of the county’s board of supervisors.

The county was able to avoid layoffs expected after the 2011 legislation was passed by the state, but decisions made at the state level continue to put pressure on counties, Moorlach said.

He cited the prison reform efforts that returned prisoners to the county to deal with overcrowding issues and the dissolution of the redevelopment agencies as other decisions at the state level that have kept budgets constrained at the local level even as the economy recovers.

County leaders made the decision with former Auditor-Controller David Sundstrom to seize the $73 million in 2011 after the state took funds the county had been receiving to repay bonds issued in 1995 to emerge from its 1994 bankruptcy.

When it refunded the 1995 bonds in 2005 the county obtained much lower interest rates but the refunding bonds did not include the state’s pledge of a flow of vehicle license fees that helped support the original 1995 bond issue.

Those were the funds the state took to solve its own budget crisis in legislation passed during the 2011 session.

County officials argued that state legislators had erred in how they allocated property taxes back to the county and should have allowed the county to keep a greater share.

Attorneys for the state argued that Orange County was trying to achieve in court what it could not achieve in the state Legislature.

Assemblyman Jose Solorio, an Orange County Republican, sponsored last-minute legislation to restore funding to the county in 2011, but it failed to make it through both chambers of the state legislature.

After the failure of Solorio’s bill, county leaders, with the help of several law firms, persuaded Sundstrom to ignore Sacramento’s budget allocations on property taxes.

On Jan. 31, Sundstrom allocated the $73 million to the county instead of local schools.

The move didn’t harm the county’s K-12 schools, who received backfilled funds from the state through an equalization law, but it resulted in less money for the county’s community colleges, which joined the DOF in the lawsuit against the county.

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

September 16

1993

There were Letters to the Editor (“Best of the Hotline”) in the Daily Pilot on the subject of “Voucher debate” (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Filling a Hole — September 10, 2013). Here is one to contemplate, as a little over a year later, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District would incur another fiscal loss resulting from its participation in casino bonds with the Orange County Treasurer.

Whether or not one is in agreement or disagreement with Steve Marble’s school voucher comments in his column last Saturday, a short reply is necessary.

Marble proclaims that “the school system still works.” I guess that’s how he and others might look at it and he has a right to his opinion. And, while Marble may take issue with columnist John Moorlach’s use of the word “pizzazz,” citizens of Newport, Costa Mesa and elsewhere might well be looking for some pizzazz, not entirely limited to the voucher initiative but in the form of much-needed fiscal and moral oversight in their school districts.

If the Newport-Mesa Unified School District “belongs to us,” as Marble states, and “the superintendent works for us” and “we elect our neighbors to serve on the school board” why do we find ourselves $4 million in the hole? Yes, former Superintendent John Nicoll and former budget director Stephen Wagner are gone now and we wish our new superintendent well, but certain disinterested rubber stampers still serve on the board, as before, and have yet to take responsibility for their lack of oversight as our fiduciaries.

It follows, then, that many deeply frustrated taxpayers in this community and in other areas of the state may very well have given up on some aspects of local rule, given the abysmal service some of our elected school representative watchdogs have given us over the past two decades. Perhaps a little “flexibility,” as Moorlach puts it, is just what we need in our entrenched and wasteful educational bureaucracies whether you’re for or against Proposition 174.

KENT S. MOORE

Corona del Mar

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