The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department took drastic measures to successfully cut overtime costs, dealing with multimillion-dollar losses over the past two fiscal years. But the agency says such reductions are not sustainable at last year’s pace, given a rise in crime and homicides in the county and an emerging glimpse of pre-COVID-19 life, according to a county report.
The overtime cuts — totaling $99.9 million — made a significant dent in the department’s deficit, and yet exceeded the agency’s $129 million overtime budget by $50.8 million, according to the report, Tuesday, November 30, at the supervisors meeting. unveiled before. Where the financial position of the department will be reviewed.
The review comes amid fiscal and operational challenges for many county departments affected by falling revenues amid the pandemic – and a hiring freeze still in effect.
The pandemic, and its associated nationwide shutdowns, prompted the department to shift duty and reassign detained staff to reduce overtime hours and other costs.
Reportedly, County Chief Executive Officer Facia A. By Davenport, the changes included the temporary reassignment of detention and patrol staff “to duties that would otherwise have been met with personnel working overtime.”
It didn’t hurt that court operations, prison visits, training and security needs in schools and programs were reduced over the past two fiscal years, allowing the department to cut overtime costs.
But those days are over, according to the report, noting that the department still needs to find ways to keep costs down.
According to the report, “LASD, like the rest of the county, is being hit by a steady reopening and uneven economy as a gradual, but safe, return to a revised version of pre-COVID-19 operations.” continues.” This includes court services, prison visitation and sub-supervision at events and schools.
The department pointed out that the overtime savings of the previous financial year are “not sustainable”.
This was due to an increase in violent crime, an increase in the number of public records requests, drug enforcement and what the agency said was a reduction in the number of budget academy classes from 12 to 4, “resulting in a slowdown in LASD’s capacity for vacancies.” and hence there is a need for utilization of overtime for addressing the vacancy,” according to the department.
According to the report, if the department is to keep its $3.6 billion budget balanced, county officials pointed to overtime costs, which are already rising, the report’s emphasis on the need to keep such costs down. inspires.
The issue of the rising cost of overtime comes in the context of ongoing budget tensions between the board of supervisors and the sheriff. Supervisors are trying to rein in the increase in costs for the sheriff’s department.
Last year, supervisor Sheila Kuehl moved about $83 million out of the $144 million Sheriff Alex Villanueva requested to deal with capital expenditures and costs related to the pandemic, but it was on Villanueva as county CEO. It was contingent to continue working in the office and reduce expenses. ,
Villanueva said the sharp cut would impact services ranging from toxicology services to maintenance of patrol vehicles to training standards.
In particular, Kuehl urged the elimination of some training academy classes, which would save tens of millions of dollars. It was a sad place for Villanueva, who wanted the department to unlock the full $144 million.
But Kuehl and other observers pointed to ongoing department losses each year that Kuehl said were “not fair to taxpayers” and “harmful to the overall county budget.”
While the budget cuts of more than $145 million have eliminated 1,281 LASD-wide positions, according to the report, the CEO said the austerity has driven “progress” in reducing the budget.
For the first time since fiscal year 2016-17, the department’s budget is balanced, which also includes repaying a $63.4 million loan to the department to address the department’s 2018-19 budget deficit.
“However, the mitigation efforts to achieve a balanced budget were mostly one-time in nature and cannot be harnessed by the LASD on an ongoing basis,” the CEO said in the report.
And although overtime was one of the most “impressive” challenges, there are others, according to the report.
– a contract with the LA Community College District that is set to expire, which may result in a loss of revenue;
– the need for more staff to address the increase in the prison population;
– the need for more funding to address the growing violent crime, homelessness and illegal cannabis issues; And
– Cost of infrastructure, such as technology and equipment.
County officials say the department will need to keep a close eye on issues that come up throughout the year — including overtime — to keep costs down.
This may mean implementing financial strategies that include “closely monitoring spending” to ensure that LASDs continue to manage their budget appropriately.