Riverside County Seal

During contentious discussions, the district attorney says his department was underfunded and would need to lay off workers or cut services

By David Danelski / The Press Enterprise
Published: July 26, 2016
Updated:   July 27, 2016 – 7:23 a.m.

Following about an hour of contentious discussions, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved on Tuesday, July 26, revisions to an austere county budget designed to start closing a spending gap of more than $60 million a year.

The 4-1 vote, with Supervisor Kevin Jeffries dissenting, came despite concerns from District Attorney Mike Hestrin that the budget leaves him with a $12 million shortfall and he may have to lay off people in his office with potentially ill consequences for public safety.

“If it is time to do layoffs, let’s move forward with layoffs,” Hestrin said to the supervisors, speaking from the lectern.

Yet it was unclear if layoffs will occur; board members rejected for now increases sought by Hestrin.

Supervisors John Benoit and John Tavaglione criticized Hestrin for recent hires and promotions in his office, suggesting that Hestrin could do more belt-tightening.

Hestrin responded that the personnel actions were based on predetermined obligations, such as those in collective bargaining agreements.

Benoit, Hestrin and top county staffers also agreed to meet before Labor Day to look for strategies to avoid layoffs. That could result in a quarterly budget adjustment, though Benoit said he did not think that would be necessary.

And after the vote, Hestrin said he is hopeful that the meeting would be fruitful, but added he still may have to lay off people or cut services.

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