By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

Del Norte County is begging the state for a hand-out this year to balance the budget and prevent layoffs.

To keep even the most basic and fundamental functions of the county operating, County Administrative Officer Ben Angove said $1.7 million is needed to plug gaps in the budget .

To do that, Angove and County Auditor/Controller Christy Babich said they are asking the state for a gift of the money.

Weve cut everything we can cut and still cant balance the budget. Weve exhausted our revenue options, Angove said.

Angove cited a shrinking tax base, as private lands became untaxed public lands over the last 30 years, as one reason Del Norte County tax collections have not kept pace with the cost of government.

And since part of the state and federal monies promised to the county this year never came, Angove intimated that the state should find a way to give Del Norte the help it needs now.

Angove also said theres a big chunk of logging money gone. In the late 1970s the county purse was padded with about $4 million a year from timber yield taxes. This year, the county collected only $200,000 in timber taxes.

This years deficit, he said is the first in several years and the culmination of money problems suffered by both California and the nation.

When the economy is good for the state, its adequate for us and when its bad for the state, we start taking on water, Angove said.

An opportunity for the public to review and share their opinions about Del Norte Countys budget starts tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. in the Flynn Center and lasts about two weeks.

Budget hearings were originally scheduled to begin Sept. 11, but were postponed so county officials could give the state as much time as possible to consider Del Nortes request for a bail out.

By law, the county must adopt a budget by Oct. 2. Del Nortes total budget expenditures comes to about $58 million.

Copies of the county budgets are available at the County Auditors office in the Flynn Center.