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Davis, California

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Cuts hit public safety budget hard

Recent budget decisions willdevastate the county,said Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto.

The county has asked Prieto to cut 53 positions from the Sheriff’s Department budget to bridge a $24 million deficit in the county’s general fund for the next fiscal year. Cuts are being made in every county department, but Prieto says the cuts to his department will have an especially painful impact on the county.

At a Board of Supervisors meeting last week, he told the supervisors that he could not meet the target given to him by the county and proposed cutting 18 positions.

“For what we need him to do, he needs to lay off another 35 people,said Beth Gabor, Yolo County spokesperson.

Prieto said he is worried about the safety of citizens, his number one priority. With 53 fewer staff members, Prieto is concerned that law enforcement won’t be as effective.

The positions come from a variety of divisions in the Sheriff’s Department, including animal services, the coroner and administrative offices. Deputy positions may also be cut.

“[Reducing officers] is going to leave us in dire straits,Prieto said.We do a tremendous amount of work.

By the end of June, all county departments need to have a balanced budget planned and ready for approval, Gabor said.

“We are looking at a way to fill the gap,Gabor said.The size of our hole is so significant and measures we have to take are so significant.

Supervisors on Wednesday formed a subcommittee of Jim Provenza and Mike McGowan to look more closely at the public safety budget situation.

A representative from Provenza’s office said in order to protect the process, Provenza would rather not comment on the subcommittee and the budget.

Prieto said the subcommittee wants to see what the county can and cannot do. Prieto recommends a feasibility study to see what other positions can afford to be cut or combined.

“I would close a lot of things other than law enforcement, though I am willing to make some cuts,he said.

Though these sheriff cuts are on a county level, the city of Davis police department is similarly planning its budgets for Junewith less funding. Davis Assistant Police Chief Steven Pierce said the Davis Police Department has been asked to look at 3 to 5 percent budget cuts, which translates to around $400,000 to over $700,000 in cuts.

The county’s cuts wouldn’t directly affect Davis or the city’s police department, Pierce said. However, proposed cuts such as the closing of Leinberger Detention Center in Woodland, would indirectly affect Davis residents and their safety.

“[Released inmates] will be out in respective communities, including our own,Pierce said.

Unlike other California counties that are also dealing with budget cuts, Yolo County relies heavily on property tax, not sales tax, Gabor said. A big decline in property values recently has made Yolo lag behind the rest of the economy.

“We expect to be grappling with [economic difficulties] for a couple of years,Gabor said.

Prieto acknowledged that the county is struggling with the current economy.

“I realize the board has a tremendous challenge,Prieto said.I hope we can work together as a team.


SASHA LEKACH can be reached at city@theaggie.org.


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