As the supervisors deliberated in public session Wednesday, their staff continued working behind the scenes to reach compromises on a range of budget issues, including restoration of funds to libraries, additional funding for the Sheriff's Department and funding lifeguards beyond Sept. 30.
Supervisor Deane Dana said that the groundwork has been laid for agreement and that the time had come to talk hard numbers.
One number being bandied about is $20 million, the amount of additional funds that may go the Sheriff's Department, board sources said.
Although they rejected any new local taxes, the board is tentatively supporting a state measure on the November ballot to maintain an existing half-cent sales tax that is scheduled to expire Jan. 1. The tax would raise $200 million for public safety projects in the county.
In his monthly news conference Wednesday, Sheriff Sherman Block said: "I've had conversations with individual supervisors as recently as late last evening. . . . Right now, we're $31 million (short of his full funding request), and that translates into closure of facilities. There is no other way to accomplish those kind of cutbacks.
"I think that everyone pretty much realizes that without an adequate level of public safety, everything else is going to fall apart," he added. "If you're going to have an orderly society, if you're going to have social order, or social well-being, it must be built on a foundation of social order. . . . I would say that we're first in the line of defense."
Times staff writer Kenneth Reich contributed to this story.