10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, June 15, 2011

By IMRAN GHORI
The Press-Enterrise

San Bernardino County supervisors will meet this afternoon to consider a budget plan that cuts services and asks employees to give up some health and retirement benefits.

Chief Executive Officer Greg Devereaux will recommend to supervisors that they adopt his proposed $4.8 billion budget, which was released last week on the same day as a Board of Supervisors budget workshop.

Most of the 2011-12 spending plan pays for a required federal and state health and public assistance program. The county has discretion over only $457.3 million for core services such as public safety, libraries and parks.

With the county facing a $46.6 million deficit, the budget calls for cutting staff by 4 percent, which translates to 768 positions, 233 of which are filled.

The fiscal plan also calls for 2.3 percent reduction in county spending.

Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt said the board has not had enough time to review the plan and that supervisors have not been included enough in crafting the recommendations.

“What’s coming before the board isn’t something the board had any say in,” he said, adding that he has not been able to get all the information he’s sought from Devereaux.

Mitzelfelt was outvoted during last week’s workshop on several policy decisions, including reducing discretionary funds for board offices and setting aside money for special projects such as an emergency radio system and road and building maintenance.

While a good idea, he said, “they don’t seem like urgent priorities that ought to be funded first before we even know what our public safety cuts are going to be.”

The district attorney and probation department will lose staff while the sheriff’s department is shelving plans for a new crime lab to avoid layoffs.

Other services, such as parks and libraries, will also take cuts in the budget.

Devereaux said his recommendation is based on unanimous votes from the board providing him with direction and noted that supervisors will have the ultimate say.

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