Fresno Sheriff Fighting to Keep the Peace

June 17, 2008 7:34:54 PM PDT
Fresno County's Sheriff fought to keep from laying off dozens of deputies as the county faces drastic budget cuts. The Board of Supervisors say the county is facing a fiscal crisis and all departments are facing cuts. But the sheriff said, proposed budget reductions mean she will be forced to eliminate more than 200 positions unless the board finds more money.Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims painted a grim and chaotic picture if she eliminates dozens of deputies. Mims said, "When residents live in fear, there's no quality of life. If businesses aren't assured of adequate public safety, they will not locate here."

Mims appeared on Tuesday before the Board of Supervisors. A committee recommended Mims reduce her budget by $14-million. But Supervisor Henry Perea made a promise to the sheriff and voters. Perea said, "We're not going to lay off one deputy sheriff nor are we going to lay off one correctional officer in this county. But we are going to work with you to make sure you have the funding that you need to keep your operations in tact."

Perea said staff members are searching other department budgets to fill the sheriff's shortfall. One proposal is to reduce the amount of money the county gives to employee retirement. Supervisor Bob Waterston said," What we're doing is doing it on the backs of employees. If we did that's fine for this year. But ... folks ... there's nothing left."

No decisions were made on Tuesday regarding the sheriff's budget. Talks are underway to find more money for her department.


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