Stanislaus County leaders vote for more cuts

Stanislaus County leaders this morning approved another round of cuts to the Sheriff’s Department, reducing its ranks by 25 percent over the past two years.

Many of the county’s 26 other departments will suffer even worse in coming months, supervisors said before a 4-1 vote to lay off 23 more deputies, sergeants and other workers.

Supervisor Bill O’Brien dissented, saying management hasn’t done enough to explore potential for raising money. For example, he said the sheriff’s department might sell to cities services provided by the sheriff’s specialty units, such as SWAT, bomb and equestrian teams.

A deputy accused leaders of enriching themselves while cutting essential services, a point disputed by managers, and some people in the audience accused supervisors of having questionable priorities.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff Grover said leaders and the sheriff’s department are on the same side, victimized by escalating pension costs and lethargic revenue.

Sheriff Adam Christianson, following orders to cleave his budget, laid off 52 employees in May and arranged to let go 27 last month.

Even with today’s cuts, saving $9.8 million over the next 18 months, he still could be $2 million in the red in 18 months, Undersheriff Bill Heyne said.