Sheriff’s Department Cries Foul Over Proposed Budget Cuts

We have not covered this nearly enough, but Yolo County faces what is now a 24 million dollar budget deficit for next year.  How big is that number?  It represents over one third (36 percent to be precise) of the County’s General fund.

The proposal put forth by the county was to lay off 111 workers–a number that includes 53 from the Sheriff-Coroner’s Office.

Sheriff Ed Prieto is crying foul however.  Prior to the meeting he told the Sacramento Bee:

“There will be a severe impact to the jail, to our response to assist other agencies, to our response to the public.  It’s going to be devastating.  When I look at these numbers … I don’t understand the logic.”

Well he’s right, it is going to be devastating–for everyone in the county that relies on county services, of which the Sheriff’s Department and law enforcement are but one cog.

Is it excessive?  Depends on your perspective, I would start by suggesting, a 36% reduction in the general fund budget is excessive.

While these numbers seem excessive, they also suggest perhaps that the bulk of the Sheriff’s Department’s money is tied up in personnel.  The budget for the Sheriff-Coroner’s office is slated to be cut by $5.6 million.  That represents a 19 percent cut or considerably less than the county’s 36 percent budget reduction needed to balance the books.  In other words, as bad as it seems, the Sheriff’s Office is actually doing better than other departments and agencies in the county.

Some of these cuts might be mitigated if labor groups in the county agree to salary concessions and furloughs.  Many have been participating in voluntary furloughs for nearly a year in an effort to avoid layoffs.  The county could potentially save $5 million in salary costs.

The Sheriff argued that the level of the cuts would mean huge operational changes.  The department has roughly 90 sworn officers.  These cuts would force the closure of the Leinberger Detention Center, which would release 140 inmates and force the county to rely exclusively on Monroe.  That would eliminate about 20 to 25 correctional officers.  He would also have to lay off 22 deputies, leaving just 14 for street patrols, slash the detective force, eliminate staffing for the drug task force, and make cuts in the gang task force.

Yesterday the Board of Supervisor met and pulled back from this dire scenario.  They created a subcommittee to explore how deeply to cut the Sheriff-Coroner’s Office Budget.

Supervisors McGowan and Provenza will serve on the subcommittee.  They will likely recommend a lesser amount of job cuts for the department which will mean that they will shift costs to other departments.

McGowan gave only limited reassurance suggesting that department cuts will be deeper than the sheriff would like.

“We’re not going to reduce your staff to the point that puts anybody in the perilous state you are describing.”

Sheriff Prieto told that Sacramento Bee that he was “he was discouraged by what he saw as some supervisors’ dismissive tone about the department’s duties.”

“They made it sound like the sheriff was walking around with a jail and a few deputies,” Prieto said, noting that his staff books more than 10,000 inmates yearly, handles thousands of civil papers, provides court security, a boat patrol, support for area police departments and more.

“I expected more today.”

The Vanguard will have more on this issue later.  For now, we shall just suggest that while the Sheriff has a point, that the cuts do seem excessive, there is also the point that his budget is being cut by a lower percentage than the county is overall and given the state of the budget, vital services are going to have to be cut.  Complicating matters is the fact that some of the services that the county provides are required by law and not discretionary.

These times unfortunately call for everyone to take huge hits with their budgets.  While the Sheriff has laid out a dire scenario, it will be interesting to see if he can find less devastating ways to meet budget requirements.

Along these same lines, it is interesting to note that each of the departments were asked to provide cost cutting scenarios.  The Sheriff’s department did submit a budget to the county that called for a $5.5 million reduction of their budget.  On the other hand, the District Attorney’s Office was asked to reduce their budget by about $2 million and they submitted a budget that had no budget reductions.  In fact, their budget called for an additional allocation of nearly $1 million.  That would have left them in a $2.8 million hole.  They submitted a budget with full-staffing but needed to cut about 15 and a half positions.  This was back in March, but it just demonstrates the fundamental lack of understand that some have for the budget crisis the county faces.

It will be interesting to see where this subcommittee ends up going as they re-examine the Sheriff’s Department and the needed budget cuts to balance what is a 36% general fund deficit.

In the meantime much of this pain could be eased if the employee groups step up and take pay reductions and furloughs to avoid layoffs.
—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Anon

    “In the meantime much of this pain could be eased if the employee groups step up and take pay reductions and furloughs to avoid layoffs.”

    If they don’t, those folks laid off will not be able to pay their house mortgages. Then they will be foreclosed on. A glut of foreclosed houses will reduce property values even further. That will mean less tax revenues coming in. The result? More layoffs. It will become a vicious cycle of continual layoffs if the employees don’t take pay reductions/furloughs/pay more of a share for their pensions/forgo COLAs.

  2. martin

    I think that the Sheriff should issue more DUIs and speeding tickets to make up for the budget shortfall. If the deputies can cover their costs, why lay them off? Similarly, the fire department should charge people for calling for help; those who don’t live in Yolo County should receive a bill for their charges.

  3. Alphonso

    It really is too bad, but the services must be funded. The County hired too many people during good times and now it has to go the other direction. The argument is that these cuts will make us less safe. However, the County must live within its means and the Sheriff’s challenge is to make his organization work effectively within the constraints of a tight budget.

  4. AJ

    “The County hired too many people during good times and now it has to go the other direction.”

    Did they? How many people were added? My understanding was that the county increased the salaries and benefits and especially the pensions at an unsustainable rate, same as so many other counties and cities did, when we were in a bubble and revenues were growing. Instead of preparing for a rainy day, the Yolo supes pretended the good times would never end. Once the rainy day came, Yolo was caught with its pants down and its finger in the crack vial.

  5. madame shoes

    Unions are about the collective. They are acting like greedy capitalists. They are holding out for theirs and theirs only. They don’t care if junior employees get cut. Neither do they care if county services are cut. They should have taken a collective 5% pay cut just like everyone else in order to save the county and jobs. They are victims of their own greedy selfish capitalistic anti-union ideologies. Fuxxxx the government unions. They get what they deserve!

  6. Rich Rifkin

    [b]”They are victims of their own greedy selfish [u]capitalistic[/u] anti-union ideologies.”[/b]

    Public employees = capitalists? Greedy, perhaps. Selfish, arguably. But capitalists? I’m not sure if Karl Marx is the right authority to quote on who and what a capitalist is. But he did right a well-known book on the subject. This is what he said:

    [i]”The labour-process, turned into the process by which the capitalist consumes labour-power, exhibits two characteristic phenomena. First, the labourer works under the control of the capitalist to whom his labour belongs; the capitalist taking good care that the work is done in a proper manner, and that the means of production are used with intelligence, so that there is no unnecessary waste of raw material, and no wear and tear of the implements beyond what is necessarily caused by the work. Secondly, the product is the property of the capitalist and not that of the labourer, its immediate producer.”[/i]

    Doesn’t sound to me like county employees qualify as “capitalists.”

  7. earoberts


    I’m sure many county workers have agreed to and will agree to voluntary furloughs, withgoing COLAs, paying more into their pensions to save jobs. But it probably will not be enough to stave off some layoffs. Everyone is nervous, as we should be. Keeping people employed is in everyones’ best interests, for the reasons I have given.

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