District attorney's request brings up budget deficit

Cuts to county services are coming. That was the message Tuesday from the Board of Supervisors as the district attorney faced a big pushback when she asked to add staff.
BAKERSFIELD, CA - Cuts to county services are coming. That was the message Tuesday from the Board of Supervisors as the district attorney faced a big push back when she asked to add staff. 

Supervisors approved the D.A.'s requests for additional staff Tuesday morning. But, board members warned no one will be safe from cuts this summer, including staff at Kern Medical Center. 

"This is the highest level of staffing the D.A. has ever had," said Chase Nunneley, Kern County Administrative Office. 
     
District Attorney Lisa Green asked to add four positions to her prison unit. She told the Kern County Board of Supervisors that unit's caseload has increased by 60 percent since 2012. 

"I don't have enough people to do the work," said Green. 

Green says she can add those positions at no cost to the county because the positions will be covered by state funds. Green also requested adding and deleting some other positions that the County Administrative Office says will overall save the county $13,000. 

But, the County Administrator's Office did not want to grant any of those requests. 

"Simply stated in the board letter, we do not concur with the district attorney's request at this time," said John Nilon, Kern County Administrative Officer. 

"Frankly I don't understand why," said Green. 

The issue all goes back to Kern Medical Center. When supervisors discovered a $30 million deficit from the hospital, the board asked all departments to cut five percent from their budget. According to the the County Administrative Office, the D.A.'s Office is one of only three departments to submit its budget over the proposal.

Nilon said the D.A. could move other attorneys to the prison unit and gain a cost savings to the county rather than add positions. Therefore, he requested the board deny the D.A.'s request. 

"To do otherwise would reward departments that do not follow the budget directives, the board's budget directives, at the expense of those who do follow the board's directives," said Nilon.

But, Supervisor Maggard brought the discussion back to KMC.

"Did you just tell us that KMC is not receiving a reduction but an increase?" asked Maggard. 

The answer is according to the C.A.O. is yes. While other departments look to cut five percent, Nilon said KMC is on tap to increase its county budget by two to three percent. 

Supervisors eventually approved the staffing changes, but board members warned budget cuts are coming.

"Come August, when it's time to meet guidelines, when it is time to make a budget that balances, I will without question dig in," said Supervisor Mick Gleason. 

The County Administrative Office says in addition to the the District Attorney's Office, the Kern County Sheriff's Department and Kern County Probation have budgets over the requested cuts. 
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