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County CEO's New Budget Would Eliminate Thousands Of Jobs And Drastically Cut Sheriff's Department

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy sits in a patrol car in a file photo from 2016. (Photo by Maya Sugarman/KPCC)
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The L.A. County CEO is recommending hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts to make up for the catastrophic effects of COVID-19 on county resources. The plan includes eliminating thousands of county jobs, including cuts to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.

The proposed budget revision, released Thursday, includes eliminating 3,251 positions. Most of those would be unfilled vacancies, but there are 655 potential layoffs that would be implemented after October 1.

All county department budgets would be cut by 8%. Since law enforcement has by far the largest share of the budget, it also faces the most significant reductions: the plan scales back the Sheriff's Department budget by $145.4 million and cuts 1,392 positions, including possibly laying off 346 personnel.

"This is not the outcome any of us wants to see, especially as our County staff continues to serve with great commitment during this crisis," CEO Sachi Hamai said in a statement. "I want to wholeheartedly thank our more than 100,000 employees for their incredible dedication to public service at this difficult time."

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The county is facing a $935.3 million shortfall in the fiscal year beginning July 1, Hamai said. She is set to present her revised $34.9 billion spending plan to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Monday.

"This unprecedented crisis has resulted in sharp revenue declines at the same time the County also is investing in vitally-needed response and reopening activities to support our communities during this global pandemic," Hamai said in a letter explaining the new proposal to county supervisors.

A spokesperson for L.A. County Board Of Supervisors President Kathryn Barger said she would comment on the plan Monday.

The budget was first approved back in April, before the full picture of how the pandemic would affect tax revenues and economic activity was clear. Depending on how the summer unfolds, some cuts could be mitigated in a supplemental budget due in September, Hamai said

"We are advocating vigorously to obtain additional State and federal funding that may become available over the next few months, and we continue to work with labor in hopes of minimizing these potential workforce reductions," the letter states.

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Although L.A. County is in the midst of reopening most non-essential businesses and government services, according to the county's own analysis and a survey of economists' predictions, there are dim prospects for what's known as a "V-shaped recovery" bounceback in the coming year.

"[M]ost forecasts have been more pessimistic, foreseeing a protracted period of economic difficulty and unemployment, even as phased reopening is underway," Hamai said in her letter to supervisors.

This is a developing story and it will be updated.