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The headline reads “Ax spared on sheriff’s budget.” It should have read “Ax poised to take out sheriff’s knees.”
While this week’s accounting process may be over, the residents of El Dorado County would be wrong to believe that the matter is done. Rather, the the county coninues to bleed, and additional cuts will be made in the spring, and likely again after that.
Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Office continues to do more with less. El Dorado County has doubled in population in the last 20 years, new home construction continues in El Dorado Hills, Latrobe and elsewhere. And you can expect eight or so deputies heading out on patrol each shift. One on the Divide, one in the South County, two or three east of Greenstone, and three west of Greenstone. Addtional cuts to the Sheriff’s Office will mean losses to patrol and investigations as everything else has already been cut.
If you have ever needed a deputy sheriff in an emergency you know that we are never close enough, never fast enough, and there are never enough of us. Any futher cuts to the Sheriff’s Office will mean we are fewer, and will arrive slower.
Meanwhile, the population rises and criminals don’t have budget cuts. We fully understand that the resources of our county are limited, and I don’t envy the job of the Board of Supervisors. But cuts must be prioritized. The county moves forward with plans to build a $6 million animal shelter while discussing taking an additional million-and-a-half from the sheriff in the spring. Supervisor Ray Nutting, to his credit, called on the board to stop that nonsense, suggesting instead that an existing building could be found, purchased and retrofitted for half the cost and a million dollars a year for three years could be returned to the Sheriff’s Office. Thus preserving the vital function of patrol at current levels. Supervisor Jack Sweeney made it clear that the animal shelter is not on the table, and the others remained mute.
Deputy sheriffs were the first of the county employees to take a hit personally in the budget crunch, having given up 7 percent in 2009. We have reduced the number of deputies in collateral assignements with money attached, and currently sit in negotiaions where we discuss which concessions we shall make, not if we shall make any. But even after this is completed, the county will look for more. And more will mean personnel. And those are the men and women you see on the roads. All the other cuts have been made.
Call your county supervisor. Let them know what your preference is.