County Budget Cuts Could Mean Fewer Services And Longer Wait Times - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

County Budget Cuts Could Mean Fewer Services And Longer Wait Times

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A reduction in services and longer wait times are in store for the county of San Diego because of looming budget cuts in the next fiscal year, officials said today.

County supervisors were given a preview of the kind of cuts they can expect to be proposed in the budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year, which will be presented for their approval in two months.

"The news is not particularly good," Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard told the board.

San Diego County's finances have taken hits from several sides. The flailing economy has led to less-than-expected property and sales tax revenues while California budget problems have resulted in cuts to state funding. The Wall Street meltdown badly hurt the county's investment portfolio, Ekard said.

Ray Fernandez, who oversees the county's various public safety agencies, said cuts being considered include closing the Descanso Detention Facility -- which would save $10.3 million annually -- decentralizing the sheriff's SWAT team and reducing administrative staff.

Additionally, the District Attorney's Office might suspend its Cold Case Unit and assign greater caseloads to prosecutors, Fernandez said.

Since the state has pulled funding of a program to monitor the mentally ill, there will be less supervision, he said.

Fernandez said despite the proposals, the county will try to protect public safety from the bulk of its cuts.

Other managers listed proposed reductions in park hours and acquisition of new materials for libraries.

Several supervisors said they opposed "backfilling" funds that have been taken away by the state.

Ekard said the federal stimulus package will keep the cuts from being even deeper. He also warned that none of the ideas were set in concrete.

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