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County Budget Passes Early Vote

Riverside County supervisors will debate requests for funds from law enforcement.

June 10, 2003|Seema Mehta | Times Staff Writer

Citing population growth and heightened security needs, law enforcement officials on Monday laid millions of dollars in budget requests before the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.

The panel approved a tentative $3-billion budget but will debate the agencies' requests for extra funding before adopting a final spending plan July 15.

Several board members seemed inclined to put off nearly all additional funding requests until the extent of the state budget crisis is known later this year.

"The uncertainty of the state budget dictates we hold off on everything until we're able to have a better idea of what's going on," said Supervisor Roy Wilson.

The budget is nearly 3% greater than last year's and avoids the drastic cutbacks seen in other Southern California counties. Much of the budget comes from state and federal money and must be spent on specific programs and services. But the county's share rose to $419.3 million -- up from $399.7 million this year.

The proposed budget maintains existing funding but forgoes most capital projects and other extras regularly granted in past years. Monday's budget hearing was the county department heads' opportunity to ask for more money. Public protection dominated the discussion.

Sheriff-Coroner Bob Doyle said he needs $7.8 million to cover additional costs for corrections, patrol, support services and in other areas. He said the county eventually must build a new maximum-security to jail to deal with an inmate population expected to double with a decade.

Dist. Atty. Grover Trask asked for 34 new prosecutors, investigators, technicians and transcribers.

And Fire Chief Tom Tisdale said he needed 10 additional dispatchers, as well as funding for fire-engine replacement and training so firefighters in rural areas can also serve as paramedics. He said that he could forgo many of these requests until the fall but that he badly needs additional dispatchers.

Supervisors appeared sympathetic to most of the requests but said the coming year would be lean.

"When you add that all up, we don't have the funding for it," said Supervisor Bob Buster.

Supervisors appeared to favor granting $540,650 in matching funds that would allow the Sheriff's Department to accept a federal grant for hiring 22 new sheriff's deputies.

Buster suggested that department heads find money in their existing budgets to fund their other requests.

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