Sheriff Alex Villanueva says the deficit was inherited by his predecessor Jim McDonnell and the Board itself.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors plans to discuss next week and perhaps pass a motion to demand fiscal responsibility in the Sheriff's Department that faces a $ 64.4 million deficit.

On the problem, Sheriff Alex Villanueva assured La Opinion that said deficit inherited it from his predecessor, Jim McDonnell, “and the supervisors know it; they just want to embarrass me (publicly) because they are interested in having all the power. ”

The motion of supervisors Hilda Solís and Sheila Kuehl aims to "improve internal processes and establish controls within the Sheriff's Department (LASD) to ensure accountability and achieve fiscal responsibility."

Both Solis and Kuehl would request the Sheriff, -in consultation with the county's executive director, Sachi Hamai, the current acting auditor-controller, Arlene Barrera, and the county advisor, Jeffrey Prang, to develop and implement a continuous mitigation plan of deficit without any reduction of the sworn personnel that patrol in the streets or that have a fiscal impact on the priority services of the Board.

The idea of ​​Solís and Kuehl is to develop a plan for the Board's consideration to recover the adjusted deficit of the fiscal year (FY) 2018-19 of $ 63.4 million from the Sheriff's Department over a period of several years from fiscal year 2019 -twenty; In addition, implement a freezing of hiring in the LASD, excluding critical health and public safety positions, as determined by the Executive Director.

Sources close to the problem told La Opinion that it is thought that the huge deficit grew by overtime. However, he considered the question “wrong” when asked if the deficit came from the administration of Sheriff McDonnell or from the election of Villanueva

“Everything has to be approved by the supervisors of each agent; nobody can approve (overtime) for himself, ”said Sheriff Villanueva. “This whole problem has come since 2008 and it was growing because the supervisors approved contracts with employees and gave them annual increases of 3% and 4%, and those 70 million was caused by that contract that I inherited and the Board knows it very well, but since (Jim McDonnell) was his friend, they didn't care about anything. ”

Fund mobilization

Next Tuesday's assignment for the Acting Auditor-Comptroller, – in consultation with the Executive Director – is to transfer $ 143.7 million of several LASD budget units to Provisional Financing Uses – Sheriff's Budget Unit, so that the financing It is still dedicated to LASD, but not available to the Department until the budget mitigation plan approved by the Board is implemented. A total of $ 143.7 million will be transferred from the service allocation: $ 134.4 million of supplies and capital goods and $ 9.3 million of appropriation of equipment.

The mission for the controller-controller and for the executive director will be “to monitor the progress of the Sheriff in the implementation of the budget mitigation plan and achieve satisfactory budget performance; and as long as the LASD progresses its budgetary performance to address the deficit of the current year, the Comptroller Auditor and the Executive Director can make recommendations to transfer funds to the operational budget units of the Sheriff's Department. ”

In the same way, these officials and the inspector general will have the ability to carry out operational reviews of the Sheriff's Department to determine if there are areas where they can be more efficient or can operate more effectively, such as the use of overtime. . Sheriff Villanueva would be asked for a quarterly report to the Board of Supervisors, "to ensure that it works within the budget approved by the board."

Sheriff Villanueva reported that, after his election in November 2018, he also inherited 958 vacancies and his officers provided security services in the courts and on the streets.

The fight for power and authority

The Board of Supervisors has maintained a constant struggle with Sheriff Villanueva, to whom Judge Mitchell Beckloff of the Superior Court of Los Angeles sent a preliminary injunction last August to remove the badge and the weapon from Sheriff Caren Carl Mandoyan , who had been fired for accusations of domestic violence by Jim McDonnell.

Sheriff Villanueva rehired Mandoyan, who volunteered in his triumphant political campaign that led him to unseat the former sheriff, Jim McDonnell, in the November 2018 elections.

Villanueva was sued by the Board of Supervisors to cancel the hiring of Mandoyan; In addition, the judge ordered Mandoyan to stop presenting himself as a county sheriff and to renounce everything in his possession, including his badge, uniform and weapon, while Villanueva told him to stop recognizing the former officer as a county employee.

From surplus to deficit

Rosa María Santana, spokeswoman for Supervisor Hilda Solís announced that a surplus of 15.7 million was recorded in the Sheriff's Department in the 2014-2015 fiscal year; 9 million in 2015-2016; $ 124,226 in 2016-2017; 12.5 million deficit in 2017-2018 and a total of $ 90.2 million in 2018-2019 (16 million have been forgiven for the costs associated with Woolsey Fire, and $ 10.8 million were forgiven for the costs of litigation). With this, the total deficit accumulated in the LASD amounts to 63.4 million dollars.

"State law requires that Los Angeles County produce a balanced budget," supervisor Hilda Solis said in a written statement. “When a County Department has difficulties with its budget, it is the responsibility of the Department to communicate and work hand in hand with the CEO and the Board to address issues together before the end of the fiscal year. After all, no County Department works independently, and all our departments are budgeted interconnected. A deficit in a county department affects the services offered by others. ”

The Latin official said that what "worries" her most, "is that the Sheriff's Department reported a manageable deficit throughout this year, until the Department's budget emerged in May. Despite repeated requests from the County CEO for the Sheriff's Department to submit a budget deficit mitigation plan, none was ever provided. Instead, this problem persisted and the deficit increased when the books closed at the end of the fiscal year. ”

He added that when it comes to the fiscal responsibility of taxpayer dollars, regardless of whether the head of the Department was appointed by the Board of Supervisors or elected by the voters of the County, "there is a need for accountability."

“While the Sheriff's Department has had a deficit in the last three years, no deficit has come close to what we are seeing now. This budget deficit is the largest departmental budget deficit I have seen since I swore as Supervisor. I have a constitutional responsibility to be considered and prudent with taxpayer funds while ensuring that Los Angeles County health and public safety services continue to be delivered.

He concluded by saying that the motion he will present next week is intended to help the Sheriff's Department meet its budget this fiscal year and in the future.

"In addition, this action makes it clear that there will be no changes in the financing of jurors," he said. "There will be no impact on the recruitment by the Sheriff's Department of new sworn personnel or any reduction in sworn officers to patrol."


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here