Proposal would eliminate deputies, CO, technicians
A proposal to lay off two Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office patrol deputies, one jail correctional officer and two jail technicians is the subject of an 11 a.m. Board of Supervisors public hearing Tuesday at the Flynn Center, 981 H St.
The Sheriff’s Office, jail and coroner have been the bane of county budget-making this year. No stranger to deficit operations, the public safety departments’ general fund-filled hole got $1.3 million deeper after last year’s implementation of AB 109, the Public Safety Realignment Plan.
The plan means people convicted of certain non-violent, non-serious, non-sexual crimes do time in county jail, rather than state prison. These offenders are then part of the county’s probation system, rather than state parole.
Last year Del Norte County received $345,000 from the state to implement realignment, some 90 percent of which went to fund the probation department and law enforcement training programs.
Meanwhile, AB 109 is being blamed for that $1.3 million coming out of the jail and sheriff’s budgets
Until AB 109 took effect, the county received $77.17 per day per state parolee utilizing an in-custody drug and alcohol treatment program at the county jail. This reimbursement offset jail costs, particularly staff salaries.
But as the population of state parolees in Del Norte County dropped, (a primary goal of the realignment legislation), so has the jail’s receipts for serving that dwindling population (not an intention of the law).
In 2012-13, some $3 million from the county’s general fund went toward sheriff, jail and coroner operations, about one-third of the county’s total discretionary spending, according to a report by County Administrative Officer Jay Sarina.
Six months ago, Sheriff Dean Wilson was asked to come up with a plan to deal with his departments’ ballooning deficit.
The elimination of two patrol deputies “will have a direct impact to the ability of our office to focus on property crime,” Wilson wrote in an Aug. 27 letter to county officials.
“With the loss of these (jail) positions we will have to modify some jail operations and it will impact safety, flexibility, morale and cost control measures,” he also wrote.
Twenty jail beds per year could be leased to neighboring counties in the short term, a measure expected to generate an additional $440,000 in annual revenues.
Grant funding passed through Smith River Rancheria is also expected to save a patrol job that was originally up for elimination.
Depending on how county supervisors direct staff after today’s hearing, the four layoffs on the table could take effect by Oct. 1, just over two weeks from today.