Nevada County Sheriff’s Office remains whole despite county cuts

Laura Brown
Sun News Service

NEVADA COUNTY and#8212; While many county departments expect to see cuts this year including nine layoffs beginning July 1, funding for public safety, namely the Sheriff’s Office, is projected to remain whole for the coming fiscal year.

County supervisors will be asked Tuesday to approve the proposed $185 million budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

With adoption of the 2009-10 budget, the county would shrink its staffing by 64 jobs down to 912 positions, the lowest level since 2002.

Effective July 1, nearly nine positions will be eliminated through layoffs and demotions in the assessor’s office, information systems office, library, probation, public health and the community development agency, which oversees planning and building departments, Deputy County Executive Officer Joe Christoffel said Monday.

Already, 48 jobs have been and#8220;surgicallyand#8221; removed. Six other vacancies will remain unfilled.

A national recession and reduced revenue from the troubled state of California have forced county officials to reduce their budget for fiscal year 2009-10 by $5.6 million, or 3 percent, compared to this year’s budget.

Cuts to some departments are necessary to maintain supervisor’s priorities of keeping the public safe, Christoffel said.

and#8220;They want us to maintain services to the communityand#8221; such as public safety and roads, said Christoffel.

and#8220;The philosophy of the board is (to take) not just wholesale budgeted actions, but targeted (ones),and#8221; Christoffel said. and#8220;We don’t look at it like everyone’s going to take X amount of cuts.and#8221;

Since 2007-08, funding allocations from the county’s general fund to the sheriff’s budget has steadily increased. Last year, the sheriff received $10.6 million from the general fund; the proposed budget for 2009-10 would push funding to $11.7 million.

That’s not counting funding from other state and federal sources, bringing the proposed total for the office to $16.1 million.

If supervisors approve the budget Tuesday, public protection and#8212; which includes the sheriff’s office, district attorney’s office, probation and the building and planning departments and#8212; would grow by nearly 3 percent in the coming year.

It’s the largest slice of the county’s general fund at 34 percent.

Within public protection, some departments will see a reduction in revenue, including the building department and probation.

and#8220;You’ve got to see the details to see the whole picture,and#8221; said administrative analyst Tina Vernon.

Raises for employees within his department and#8220;have driven up the cost of doing business,and#8221; said Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal.

With economic storm clouds brewing, Royal doesn’t see a need to make cuts, because his funding streams remain healthy.

and#8220;I think we’ve tightened our belts. We haven’t had to cut any positions,and#8221; Royal said. A security guard position at the county courthouse may be reduced, he said.

A $1.2 million contract with the U.S. Marshal’s Service to house federal prison inmates at the county jail helped offset substantial revenue losses in sales taxes, Royal said.

Though crime in Nevada County hasn’t reached worrisome levels, Royal is concerned how a proposal to release tens of thousands of state prisoners early as a cost saving measure to California would impact the county jail.

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