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County Budget Approved; Sheriff Gets Bulk of Restorations

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Park rangers, probation officers and workers with child protective services workers will lose their jobs. Sheriff's deputies could too. There will be hundreds of layoffs in all, helping close what started as a $180 million deficit.
The hearing started with hours of number-crunching. Officials were trying to figure out how much money they could put back into the budget. That came out to around $23 million to shift around. The sheriff got most of it but still faces another round of deputy layoffs. The District Attorney and Probation departments took big hits too. And when the final budget came up for a vote, Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan announced she would oppose it.
MacGlashan: "This budget tells the residents of the unincorporated area, you're on your own. Public safety is most fundamental reason for having local government, and I cannot vote for a budget that causes this county to fail in meeting that fundamental responsibility."
Supervisor Jimmee Yee jumped in to point out that the Board had put $22.5 million out of the $23 million available for restorations into the sheriff, DA and probation departments.
Yee: "I think this board has done very good as far as providing what little money we have available primarily to public safety."
But Supervisor Roger Dickinson said he would also vote no - for the completely opposite reason of MacGlashan.
Dickinson: "This budget, in my estimation, tells those who are the most vulnerable in our community - the young, the old, the sick, the poor, that they are the forgotten, overlooked and continue to have no presence of any significance before this board."
I support public safety too, Dickinson said - but the county can't abdicate all its other responsibilities to exclusively fund public safety.
At that point, the budget was up in the air. One more no vote would send everyone back to the drawing board. You could feel the tension in the room. Then, Supervisor Don Nottoli said he wasn't planning to speak before he voted - but now felt compelled to.
Nottoli: "Yeah, there's a lot of compromises in here.  And the bottom line is, is that there is not sufficient funding.  There's lots of things I could certainly take a stab at and say, I don't like it, we oughta do it differently. On the other hand, I think we have a responsibility to approve a budget, to meet our fiduciary responsibilities and to do it in the best way possible."
And Supervisor Susan Peters echoed those remarks, adding her disappointment about the two no-votes.
Peters: "I think we have done our duty with the money that we have. And I will vote for this. I'm not excited about it. I wish we had another - a lot more money to spend on things important to us. But we have to do the best we can.  And I wish we were all going forward together."
Then, moments later:
Dickinson: "Please vote."
Clerk to the Board of Supervisors: "Three aye votes, Supervisors MacGlashan and Dickinson voting no, motion carries."
And in those few seconds, Sacramento County's nightmare budget process came to an end - at least for a few months.
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