Cuts likely at Contra Costa Sheriff's Office

February 24, 2009 4:07:26 PM PST
Despite cutting $90 million from the budget in May, Contra Costa County is now facing an additional $26 million shortfall for this fiscal year, according to County Administrator David Twa.

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The county has implemented a hiring freeze and could begin issuing another round of layoff notices in the coming months.

"We simply cannot spend what we don't have," Supervisor Mary Piepho said during the supervisor's meeting in Martinez Tueday.

The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office is likely to be one of the hardest hit county agencies and currently has a $14.7 million deficit.

The sheriff's office could be forced to layoff between 50 and 70 deputies effective April 30, according to officials.

In a letter sent to staff members Friday, Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf warned employees of the impending layoffs.

"Because of our previous reductions over the last seven years, we have run out of room to maneuver internally, which means that with the proposed level of funding, we will be forced to lay off personnel. The majority of these will come from sworn ranks," the letter read.

Piepho said laying off that many deputies was unacceptable and suggested that the county work with the sheriff to cut other programs to find a way to prevent layoffs.

A number of other county departments are also projecting deficits, including Employment and Human Services, which is projecting a $6.4 million deficit, and Health Services, which is projecting a $4 million shortfall.

In a report to the board, Twa said that at the midpoint of this fiscal year, the county was spending about 45.6 percent of planned spending, but anticipated revenues were only at 43.6 percent, mainly because of decreased property and sales tax revenues.

Board members did not make any decisions Tuesday about how to close the budget gap, but are scheduled to hear recommendations during a budget hearing March 17.

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