Barger ‘disappointed’ about Villanueva’s budget cuts list

FILE PHOTO Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger speaks at the Hyatt Regency Valencia. Eddy Martinez/The Signal.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, is encouraging Sheriff Alex Villanueva to identify “more appropriate” budget cuts for the Sheriff’s Department rather than closing patrol stations, among other changes. 

Villanueva outlined on Monday a list of what underfunding would mean for the department, which included the elimination of positions in several programs, such as the Youth Activities League and school officers, as well as closing the Parks Bureau and the Altadena and Marina Del Rey stations. 

The list of budget cuts comes as the county Board of Supervisors approved $3.5 billion of Villanueva’s requested $3.9 billion for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The board cited department deficits within the sheriff’s first two years in office. 

In a statement Tuesday, Barger said, “Since last year, the Sheriff’s Department has run a substantial deficit that the county is unable to maintain. These considerable fiscal issues, led predominantly by overtime costs, have become even more pronounced given the financial challenges we are experiencing during COVID-19.”

The budget cuts are projected to leave “a staggering $400 million gap,” according to a statement on the department’s website. 

Barger said county CEO Sachi Hamai has provided the Sheriff’s Department with suggestions deemed “appropriate” budget cuts, such as limited overtime and scaling back academy classes. 

“I am disappointed that, instead of more sensible adjustments, he is responding by eliminating sheriff’s stations, including in Altadena, an unincorporated area that I represent,” Barger said.

“I remain committed to resourcing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to meet its core mission of ensuring public safety for our residents and I encourage the sheriff to work with our CEO to identify more appropriate budget cuts that will not impact our communities.”

The Sheriff’s Department’s statement said, “We can tighten our belt and creatively shuffle personnel to alleviate the sting of a fiscal deficit, but ultimately, it is the public who would be impacted by a compromised allowance. And there is no benefit in that.”

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