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County Budget Watch

July 14, 1993

Los Angeles county supervisors must make $600 million in cuts to balance the county's $13.1-billion budget. Supervisors have scheduled a series of hearings and deliberations to help them determine what to cut.

AT ISSUE

The Sheriff's Department budget, at nearly $1 billion, is among the largest in county government. While most other departments have been asked to accept budget cuts in the 22% to 30% range, Sheriff's Department spending is scheduled to be pared by 3%, or roughly $30 million.

KEY DEVELOPMENTS

* Sheriff's officials told supervisors that, with the anticipated budget cut, two jail facilities--the Peter Pitchess Honor Rancho and a holding facility in Mira Loma--would have to be closed, eliminating 3,520 prisoner beds. In addition, $10 million in administrative support would have to be eliminated.

* Sheriff's officials warned that there are additional unfunded liabilities looming in the coming year. A new 1,000-bed jail facility in Lynwood is about to be completed and will require $15.6 million to operate. In addition, training of officers to implement reforms recommended by the Kolts Commission would cost $18 million.

* Though board members have asked that the department keep jail facilities open and cut the budget elsewhere, Sheriff Sherman Block repeatedly has told supervisors that he alone will determine spending priorities in the department.

TODAY'S TESTIMONY

Scheduled to testify before the board are Ilona Lewis, director of the Coroner's Department; Dr. Arleta Crowe, director of the Department of Mental Health; Robert Gates, director of the Department of Health Services; Arnold Butler, chairman of the Martin Luther King Hospital Authority; Anne Hyland of the General Relief Advocacy Project, and Richard Callahan of the Los Angeles County Funeral Directors Assn.

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