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Sheriff aims for no layoffs

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Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones is trying to prevent his department from having to lay off any employees despite facing a $4.3 million budget shortfall, according to Jones’ spokesman, Deputy Jason Ramos.

The county budget was approved Thursday by the Board of Supervisors. Jones told the supervisors earlier this week that he recently brought down his department’s $26.7 million shortfall to $9.5 million. The Board of Supervisors restored $5.2 million to his budget Thursday, leaving a gap of $4.3 million.

The supervisors resolved the county’s $90 million gap by making severe cuts. County Budget Officer Tom Burkart estimated that more than 200 layoffs may occur as a result of the budget. The county’s total budget is $3.5 billion, with a $1.9 billion general fund.

Ramos said that Jones’ highest priority is to avoid lay offs. Jones recognizes the possibility for layoffs exists, but he is trying to prevent even one layoff, Ramos said.

The Sheriff’s Department will examine whether it can make further cuts to services without layoffs, according to Ramos.

In 2009, the department laid off 122 sworn full-time sheriff’s deputies, Ramos said, adding, “Basically, we were decimated.”

Ramos said Jones is “committed to not having anybody else lose their job, if at all possible.”

The $26.7 million hole resulted in part from from personnel expenses and the drop of funding from vehicle license fees, according to Jones’ budget presentation. Jones said he would bring down the $26.7 million to $9.5 million in part through lower health benefit expenses and internal cuts. He also hopes to obtain $5.1 million in state vehicle license fees, he wrote in his presentation.

Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.

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