Sacramento County spends surplus funds on animal control, law enforcement

Sacramento County supervisors decided Tuesday to use $33 million in unexpected revenue to hire animal control officers and prosecutors and pay off debt, among other things.

Supervisors made the decisions in approving the county’s $3.7 billion budget for the fiscal year that started July 1. Each year, the supervisors approve a preliminary budget in June and then a final budget several months later.

Since approving the preliminary budget, the county’s fiscal picture improved because of a better economy, receipt of additional revenue and fiscal prudence by county departments, County Executive Brad Hudson told the board.

After years of recessionary budget cuts, some county officials, including Animal Shelter Director Dave Dickinson, were eager to rehire employees. Supervisors approved about $700,000 so he could hire additional staff, which he said will enable the shelter to stay open longer.

The goal, Dickinson said, is to get more animals adopted. As it stands, one out of three animals entering the shelter don’t make it out.

“That’s tragic,” said Supervisor Don Nottoli, who led the push for additional animal shelter funding.

The county also plans to hire two community prosecutors, who will work in the District Attorney’s Office, and prosecute gang offenses, building code violations and other nuisance-type crimes.

Supervisors emphasized neighborhood revitalization in another expenditure: blight reduction. They approved $750,000 to help code enforcement officers to address distressed properties.

The money is part of more than $5 million in additional funding that will go to the Community Development Department for graffiti removal, transportation improvements and other expenses.

The expenses approved by supervisors mean the county will pay $1.7 million less toward an internal debt than Hudson recommended. The county will now pay $11 million toward the debt, which was created during the recession when the county essentially borrowed from other funds to avoid service cuts.

Supervisors also approved additional funding for law enforcement departments that identified budget deficits earlier this year. The Sheriff’s Department will receive an additional $5 million, while the District Attorney’s Office will get $850,000 and the Probation Department will receive $500,000.

“While we are augmenting crucial services that are important to residents and businesses of our county, we are being very mindful of the challenges that the county will face in coming years,” said Supervisor Jimmie Yee.