James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/29/2010 06:07:17 PM PDT

San Bernardino County’s West Valley juvenile hall will close early next year and the county Probation Department could lose as many as 39 officers as it seeks to cut $10.2 million from its budget.

West Valley Juvenile Detention and Assessment Center in Rancho Cucamonga will close in March, seven probation-corrections officers will be laid off next month and 32 more officers could lose their jobs by the end of the year, Chief Probation Officer Michelle Scray said Tuesday.

“The budget shortfall for this year would be just over $10million,” Scray said. “We are in a deep and enduring fiscal crisis, and funds are simply not available to operate this department as we have in the past.”

Scray said she had not planned to close the West Valley juvenile hall or lay off as many officers until the San Bernardino County Safety Employees Benefit Association, the union representing county probation officers, voted this month to reject pay and benefit concessions.

That vote, Scray said, added $2million to the $8.2million she already had to cut.

“It had not been my intention to close West Valley juvenile hall prior to finding out SEBA had not accepted the concessions,” she said.

SEBA officials did not return calls for comment Tuesday. Scray said SEBA concessions would not have spared seven officers from losing their jobs but could have kept the West Valley site open and protected 32 officers’ jobs.

Scray said she is meeting with SEBA officials to discuss cost-saving measures that could prevent the layoffs of those 32 officers.

The department will also cut 40 vacant officer positions and 39 other vacant positions from its budget.

The budget cuts also mean all part-time replacement probation officers will lose their jobs next month, supervisory employees will lose their take-home vehicles and the department will cut back on overtime, services and supplies.

The 12-year-old West Valley facility has room for 182 juveniles and now houses about 100. Without it, the Probation Department will have room for 417 juveniles between the Central juvenile hall in San Bernardino and the High Desert juvenile hall in Apple Valley.

That’s enough beds for the 370 to 400 juveniles the county typically houses at any given time, Scray said.

But the West Valley site will have to remain open until at least March, when construction at Central juvenile hall is expected to be complete.

“The capacity (at Central) as of March 2011 will be 280 beds,” Scray said. “It’s now at 140.”

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