Top officers ask supervisors to go easy on budget cuts to law enforcement, DA's office

By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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Law enforcement’s top officers in Placer County made their plea Tuesday to county supervisors to keep budget cuts in the Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s office to the minimum. The budget recommendation for the Sheriff’s Department is $93.7 million – down from spending last year of $97.5 million. The district attorney’s spending proposal is $373,000 lower than last year, at $18.3 million. Sheriff Ed Bonner told supervisors at Tuesday’s budget workshop that his department is ready to further reduce expenditures based on lower sales tax numbers but that there will be challenges in areas like overtime because the job is not “9-to-5.” “If a homicide comes in or a child walks away from a camp in the mountains – a lot of things drive our overtime,” Bonner said. District Attorney Brad Fenocchio said he’s seeing the strain in his office on people trying to “do more with less.” Budget cuts come at a time when there is an increase in criminal behavior, he said. The Sheriff’s Department is saying violent crimes were up 12 percent in the first six months of the year. “Somebody has to speak up for the little guy and in challenging times, we will be that voice but it’s difficult to do justice on a budget,” Fenocchio said. As part of the cost cutting, employee numbers in the Sheriff’s Department will be dropping from 450 allocated positions a year ago to 423 in this year’s final budget. The district attorney’s work force will be down from 115 employees to 109. The county is planning to use reserve funds and about $9 million in savings carried over from last year’s budget to shore up a $26 million shortfall – much of it coming from state takeaways and further reductions in property tax income. The county approved a tentative $769 million spending plan in May. Workshops Tuesday and today will fine-tune directions on further cuts. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at