Cuts to Sheriff, DA, even as Multnomah County jumps funding

Multnomah County

Multnomah County increases funding for Sheriff's Office and District Attorney, but service will be reduced

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PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Multnomah County’s new budget increases spending on two key law enforcement agencies — though it also means cutbacks for deputies and prosecutors.

Funding figures provided by the county sheriff and district attorney did not match the numbers supplied by the Multnomah County Commission — yet it’s clear both agencies are getting more money than last year, but less than was originally proposed by County Chair Deborah Kafoury.

The five-person county commission approved the $2.06 billion spending plan on Tuesday, June 23, but declined to promptly provide a copy of the final budget to the Portland Tribune, saying it wasn’t ready yet.

County spokeswoman Julie Sullivan-Springhetti said many factors “mask the cuts,” including inflating costs for health care, building leases, necessary technology upgrades — as well as the rising required contributions to the Public Employees Retirement System.

“Our personnel costs, set by labor agreements with unions, always increase because of cost of living and step pay increases,” she said. “But cutting seven jail staff, reducing services to schools, and closing three jail dorms over three years is a reduction in the Sheriff’s budget, period.”

The Sheriff’s Office said it would cut three jailers from the booking department, a corrections lieutenant, a school resource officer in Corbett and, as Kafoury had already ordered, freeze pay for managers. A final cut will empty out the 75 beds of Dorm 13 in Inverness Jail — meaning the jail system’s new total capacity will be 1,117.

It’s a $2.4 million trim, per the sheriff’s office. Kafoury’s proposed budget — floated before widespread calls to defund the police rang out during a month-long series of protests — increased the sheriff’s office funding by $6.4 million, to $165.6 million total.

The District Attorney’s office said its budget was slashed by half a million — resulting in a reduction of four full-time jobs in the misdemeanor and pretrial units. Prosecutors were previously set to have their funding raised by $3.7 million, to $39.1 million total.

“Important discussions will be had throughout the summer to determine and then review the specific implications to future prosecutions,” said Brent Weisberg, the DA’s spokesman.

“At this time, we do not expect an operational impact to booking,” added Katie Burgard, chief of staff for the sheriff.

The Department of Community Justice, which runs the parole system, will additionally lose 19.5 jobs due to a loss of state funding, the county says. Reducing adult supervision fees will cost the DCJ at least a million per year, according to budget docs.

Other highlights include $125,000 to expand legal services day, a holiday of sorts to help people clear fines and expunge their record, as well as $10.45 million for the planned Behavioral Health Resource Center downtown and $55,000 to establish a SUN school program at KairosPDX in North Portland.

“The budget is our strongest policy document and because we are Multnomah County, people — our employees, our community members — are at the center,” said Kafoury.

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