LOS ANGELES, CA- Under California law, LA County must produce a balanced budget. However, the Acting Auditor-Controller recently reported that the Sheriff’s Department has an unprecedented deficit of $63.4 million, exponentially higher than any time in the last five years. In response, today the Board of Supervisors voted to approved a motion authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, and co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, that directs the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to work with the Sheriff’s Department, the Acting Auditor-Controller, and County Counsel to develop a budget deficit mitigation plan and implement a hiring freeze, excluding critical health and public safety positions.
“Had the Sheriff’s Department provided a plan to address their deficit back in January when it was first reported, the Department could have prevented this exponentially worse deficit – which is 474% larger than the previous year. However, despite repeated requests from the County CEO for the Sheriff’s Department to submit a mitigation plan, none was ever provided,” said Supervisor Solis. “Instead, this problem lingered and the deficit grew by the time the books were closed at the end of the fiscal year. This budget deficit is the largest departmental budget deficit I have seen since I was sworn in as Supervisor. By taking this action today, this Board of Supervisors is following our constitutional responsibility to be thoughtful and prudent with taxpayer funds while ensuring that LA County health and public safety services continue to be delivered.”
When a County Department faces a budget deficit, it is that Department’s responsibility to communicate and work hand-in-hand with the CEO and the Board of Supervisors so that the issues can be addressed. After all, a deficit in one County Department impacts services offered by others.
The budget issues at the Sheriff’s Department predates the current Sheriff’s Administration, although it has gotten much worse over the last fiscal year.
Sheriff’s Department overall budget surpluses and deficits
FY 2014-15: $15,700,000 surplus
FY 2015-16: $9,000,000 surplus
FY 2016-17: $124,226 surplus
FY 2017-18: $19,549,710 deficit
FY 2018-19: $90,245,683 deficit*
*This deficit was reduced by the CEO by $16 million for costs associated with the Woolsey Fire and $10.8 million for litigation costs, resulting in a final deficit of $63,400,000.
Today’s action requests that the Sheriff’s Department works with the CEO, Acting Auditor-Controller, and County Counsel to develop an ongoing deficit mitigation plan without any reduction of sworn staff on patrol or impact to Board-priority services. It also directs the CEO to recover the FY 2018-19 deficit of $63,400,000 over a multi-year period and implement a spending and hiring freeze on the Sheriff’s Department, excluding critical health and public safety positions. The motion also instructs the Acting Auditor-Controller and CEO to monitor the Sheriff Department’s progress in implementing the budget mitigation plan, and work with the Inspector General to conduct an operational review of the Sheriff’s Department to determine where budgetary efficiencies could be realized. The motion requests that the Sheriff work with the Acting Auditor-Controller and CEO to report back to the Board on a quarterly basis that it is operating within the Board-adopted budget.