In what has become an annual ritual, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones and District Attorney Jan Scully expect to go before the Board of Supervisors today and make a plea to spare them from proposed budget cuts.
Jones says the Sheriff's Department is facing a $10.7 million gap, after he identified ways to absorb another $8 million in cuts in the county budget proposed for the fiscal year starting July 1.
Scully says the District Attorney's Office is facing a $2.2 million deficit, after she identified ways to handle another $2.7 million in cuts.
The Board of Supervisors plans to hold hearings on the budget before voting on a plan this week. It's the fifth consecutive deficit budget for the county, and supervisors in recent years have focused on limiting the blow to the sheriff and the district attorney.
Some supervisors plan to do the same this year.
"Public safety is the basic role of government," said Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan. "If we don't provide for that adequately, nothing else will fall into place."
But taking more money for public safety could mean less money for other needed areas. The Department of Human Assistance, for instance, which provides benefits to the county's neediest residents, expects a $20 million cut.
County Executive Brad Hudson, who put together the budget proposal, says the budget contains $3.5 billion in spending, about the same as last year, but falls about $60 million short of what's needed to maintain existing services.
An increase in salaries and pension payments are one reason for the deficit, he said. The county expects to pay about $15 million more in salaries in the coming year, in large part because of a raise for sheriff's deputies, Hudson said.
In 2009, the county struck a deal with the deputies union giving members a 5.7 percent raise that goes into effect in the coming budget year.
The county will also pay $13.4 million more for employee retirement costs in the coming year.
If the budget proposal is approved in current form, Jones said, he would lose funding for 84 vacant positions money that actually pays for 120 on-call correctional employees.
He said he would have to lay off a combination of patrol deputies and correctional officers because he couldn't run the county's two jails if he lost all the on-call workers.
Scully said she won't determine how many layoffs might be necessary in the DA's Office until the board approves her budget. The proposed cut would equate to funding for about 13 investigators.
"We're going to continue to underserve the victims and law enforcement agencies and the citizens of this community," Scully said. "It's just really frustrating that we're in the position again this year."
At the end of April, her office had 374 employees, down from 483 four years ago.
Scully said she will have to continue the trend of reducing the types of crimes she will prosecute. The office has already stopped prosecuting certain drug crimes and thefts.
Scully made the same threat before last year's budget hearing. But supervisors restored some of her funding, which, along with the financial settlement of an environmental case, allowed her to avoid some layoffs.
The county's Human Assistance Department is facing a far bigger cut than Scully's office. Its benefits division is slated for a $20 million cut in part because payments have been going down after hitting some high points in recent years, Director Paul Lake said.
Advocates for the poor have criticized the department for failing to process welfare claims in a timely manner.
Hudson's proposed budget doesn't call for any payments toward a $71 million internal debt. The county has "borrowed" money from various funds to help prop up other budgets in recent years.
Previous county leaders have warned that the debt could hurt the county's credit rating. As the county's financial condition worsened last year, two rating agencies lowered the county's rating, which could mean higher interest payments on debt.
Where: Board of Supervisors chambers, 700 H St. Room 1450, Sacramento.
When: Begins at 9:30 a.m. today with recommendations of County Executive Brad Hudson, followed by budget hearings for:
Health and Human Services
Tuesday, 2 p.m.
IHSS Public Authority
Retiree health insurance payments
Wednesday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.: The board is scheduled to deliberate and vote.
Who can testify: Anybody can be heard. Any person needing information regarding access to the meetings should contact the County Executive's Office at (916) 874-5833.