More layoffs loom in Merced County

FRESNO, Calif.

For nearly four hours Merced County supervisors grappled with how to close a $20 million budget deficit. This year's budget is slated at just over $400 million, that's about $64 million less than last year.

The cuts affect two dozen departments and services, including libraries. The Winton library will remain open, but 14 branches within the county, will have their hours reduced by as much as 50%.

Head County Librarian, Jacque Meriam said, "And some of the branches like Cressy and Stevenson are out in the middle of nowhere, they're out in the middle of nowhere so we really try to keep those hours available for children."

But, the most severe cuts are coming from the sheriff's office. Supervisors approved Sheriff Pazin's budget proposal, which includes closing the main jail, and eliminating 44 positions, 35 of which are filled. Pink slips will be sent out July 13th.

Sheriff Mark Pazin said, "Yeah, this is worst case scenario. There's a lot of person's that have been affected. I get it. I don't have these bags under my eyes because I've been sleeping soundly at night."

By law, the board has to approve a balanced budget by June 30th. And while the cuts seem extreme, many are based on the state budget, which law makers are expected to approve by Friday. If that happens, dozens of county positions will be re-instated, and the main jail will not close.

Jeff Miller said, "What they did was a parliamentary thing today, basically they said, okay, we're going to do the layoffs, but we're gonna delay the layoffs until we can talk about it when the money comes."

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