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Ventura County Perspective

County Needs Balanced Budget

March 04, 2001

With regard to the county ordinance that allocates all of the revenue from a half-cent sales tax increase to law enforcement, voter sentiment changes and laws and ordinances are not immutable.

I believe that there has been substantial change in opinion regarding the allocation of the revenues and that there is wide support for the position that other departments of Ventura County government should not have to reduce their levels of service in order for the sheriff's and district attorney's departments to flourish.

Each department should have its fair share of the budget and each should equitably bear the brunt of a shortfall in total revenues.

I believe that there has been a shift away from unquestioning support for more and more money for law enforcement. There is widespread opinion that the law has gone too far in some areas, as exemplified by the success of the statewide proposition against incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders.

The crime rate is down. There are significant studies that indicate that this is not entirely due to the efforts of law enforcement. Pouring additional money into this area at the expense of other legitimate governmental functions that are perennially underfunded is not justified.

I believe that the citizens of Ventura County want a balanced budget, not only in the traditional sense but also meaning that each governmental function receives its due share and that no one department receives a lion's share.

I sincerely hope that the Board of Supervisors will support Harry Hufford's proposed budget relating to his recommendations concerning public safety.

SUSAN CAUGHEY

Santa Paula

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