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County Budget Forces Pitchess Cutbacks, Elimination Of Literacy Programs

Money_stacksPrisoners are playing the rotation game at Pitchess Detention Center, as dramatic reductions are taken at North Facility, now operating with a skeleton crew due to budget cutbacks. More than 200 budgeted positions have also been eliminated by moving them to various other facilities and 300 "frozen" deputy positions have been deleted from the county's rolls.

 

 

The prison, which did not release any of the affected inmates, but "redistributed" them to other facilities at the center, is one of the biggest and most visible adjustments made by County officials to make the 2010-2011 budget.

Additional savings are being achieved by absorbing the County Police, which patrol parks, into the Sheriff's Department. Sheriff's spokesperson Nicole Nishida said that all current county officers are undergoing background checks and training before becoming deputies.

Chief Executive Officer William Fujioka presented the $22.721 billion budget to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday for their review. Public hearings on the document will begin May 12. Fujioka said that the budget, which is $885 million less than the current budget, is in direct response to the decrease in property and sales tax revenues as well as the nation's current economic crisis.

Over the last three years, sales tax revenue has decreased by $210 million, while property tax revenue dropped $132 million over the last two years. Unemployment in February 2010 hit 12.4 percent, compared to 4.8 percent in 2007. During the same time period, the County's monthly average General Relief caseload has grown from 58,599 in 2007 to an estimated 93,860 this year - a 60 percent jump.

The County could lose an additional $1.5 billion depending on the legislature and the governor's handling of the state's current budget shortfall. One of the governor's proposed cuts is to the CalWorks program.

Additional budget curtailments, according to Fujioka, could include:

Assessor: $7.9 million reduction and elimination of 22 positions, impacting roll services, appraisals and information technology projects.

Public Health: $7.9 million reduction and elimination of 81 positions.

Public Social Services: $7.4 million and elimination of 383 positions.

Public Library: $4.8 million reduction and elimination of nine positions, reducing service hours at selected libraries and elimination of the adult literacy program.

Public Defender: $4.5 million reduction and elimination of 18 positions.

Children and Family Services: $4.4 million reduction in programmatic areas.

District Attorney: $3.6 million reduction and elimination of 25 positions.

To read the complete budget and breakdown of service/department adjustments, click here.