Behind te Badge Newsletter

Jun 03

[ARCHIVED] 2020 General Fund Reduction Impact

The original item was published from June 3, 2019 11:15 AM to June 3, 2019 12:25 PM

In April, I received instructions from the County Manager’s Office to reduce the Sheriff’s Office general fund budget for 2020 by 7%, or $6.7 million. This decrease raises significant concern regarding the overall safety of our community. Therefore my executive staff and I have been working to identify priorities and better understand the potential consequences of the proposed cuts. While there may be opportunities for small savings elsewhere within the JCSO, the greatest impact will be to the detentions facility. 

The reduction of personnel costs necessary to meet the requested budget cut equates to a decrease of 400 - 600 jail beds. In addition, such a significant reduction in available beds would result in the elimination of the U.S. Marshals contract, roughly a $1.8 million revenue loss. Put simply, by holding vacancies open to reduce detentions staffing levels, jail capacity decreases by as much as 44%. All remaining beds would need to be utilized for local inmates and detainees rather than reserved for federal prisoners.

Unfortunately these – reduced jail capacity and lost revenue – are not the only considerations complicating the JCSO’s budget planning process. The County’s decision to retain vacancy savings while also charging termination pay-outs back to the affected department will result in an estimated additional $1.3 million decrease to the Sheriff’s Office general fund budget of $98 million. Combining the 7% proposed budget cut, loss of the U. S. Marshals contract, and the recent County policy change regarding vacancy savings and termination pay-outs, the total net impact to the JCSO for 2020 is approximately $10 million. 

Over the past several weeks I have initiated discussions about the County’s budget reduction proposal with JCSO command staff and employees, our Citizens Advisory Council members, and other stakeholders, including local police chiefs. All are in agreement that it is imperative the County engage in a prioritization solution rather than pursuing across-the-board cuts that will have a significant and regrettable impact on public safety. And all will be kept informed of additional County directives and their subsequent budgetary repercussions. 
Barring a different approach, however, and based on the consequences illustrated above, steps must be taken now to mitigate the potential impact to the public’s safety. Primarily by implementing a moratorium on hiring for non-critical positions. Unfortunately such a restrictive hiring policy will result in
The inability to hire or promote key staff that would ensure the long-term success of the JCSO, achieve our strategic goals, and advance our succession planning processes
An immediate reduction of jail beds, thus prohibiting the application of our Jail Use Plan, which incorporates the additional 22 FTEs for detention deputies approved by the Board of County Commissioners one year ago 

It is important to note, however, that as we consider additional cost-savings during 2019, the following criteria will also factor into all budgetary decisions for the JCSO:
Avoiding any lay-offs
Maintaining our hard-sought merit-based step increases for all employees

Ultimately it is my hope the Board of County Commissioners and the County Manager’s Office will reconsider the proposed across-the-board cuts, prioritize public safety, and reverse recent decisions or directives that have significant adverse implications for Jefferson County residents. The Sheriff’s Office is committed to being actively involved with the BCC, County Manager’s Office, and other County officials in identifying suitable solutions to the projected 2020 budget deficit to ensure Jefferson County continues to be a safe place for all people to live, learn, work, and play.