The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office is faced with a proposed budget cut from the County Board of Supervisors of approximately $2 million from a $12 million budget.
The office has been able to voluntarily come up with $1.3 million out of the $2 million target by eliminating all discretionary programs, Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig said in an e-mail interview.
“[We] adamantly oppose any further cuts,” Reisig said, adding that the remaining $700,000 could only be obtained if the Board of Supervisors votes to lay off prosecutors.
If prosecutors are laid off, the department would no longer be able to prosecute many crimes in Yolo County, including theft, vandalism and fighting.
Third district Supervisor Matt Rexroad said that he has not yet taken an official stance on the proposed cuts, and the board has to look at the budget in its entirety before making any decisions. It is inevitable that many cuts to public services will be made before the final budget is completed, impacting nearly every Yolo County resident, he said.
The county is facing the proposed cuts in several areas because of a struggling state economy where there has been a reduction in sales and property tax revenue which helps fund county projects, Rexroad said.
“We can zero in on public safety and prosecuting crimes, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that we’re not going to be doing other things, where the consequences are a little more indirect,” he said, citing programs such as tuberculosis control and road repairs.
Fourth district Supervisor Jim Provenza said the cuts currently on the table are a preliminary list, but at the very worst they could mean that most misdemeanor crimes will go unprosecuted.
“If we were to cut all of them, I think that would be a disaster for public safety,” he said.
Provenza said that the county has certain “fundamental” obligations, including public safety, health and mental health. The county may have to make larger cuts in other areas in case cuts across the board severely affect these obligations.
“In the end I think we will have a budget that will protect the citizens and is fair to the citizens,” Provenza said.
The Yolo County Sheriff’s Department, while unable to speculate on specific cuts, expressed caution over cuts to prosecuting misdemeanor crimes.
“A large portion of the work we do is misdemeanor crimes, so I believe that not having the ability to prosecute those crimes would have a negative effect on the county justice system,” said Captain Rich Williams.
Meanwhile, the District Attorney emphatically made clear that he and his department opposes any further cuts because of the effect on the people of Yolo County.
“Government’s top priority is to protect our citizenry. A vote to further cut the DA’s budget in this situation would endanger our communities and be a disservice to the people of Yolo County,” Reisig said.
CHINTAN DESAI can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.