The squabbles between the Riverside County supervisors and the elected sheriff continued during the board’s Feb. 6 meeting.
Although County Executive Officer George Johnson reported that Sheriff Stan Sniff had eliminated the projected $30 million deficit in his department’s budget for the current fiscal year, he noted that the staff attrition necessary to accomplish this absorption of costs was exacerbating the staffing and patrol problems in the unincorporated areas.
“The department indicated that [the loss of staff] comes at a high cost because the reduction in county … funding has disproportionately impacted the unincorporated areas and the countywide jail system. The sheriff also signaled seeing a higher resignation rate for uniformed personnel. Although the department stated they have realized some savings, they continue to see higher overtime costs due to attrition of staff,” Johnson’s report stated.
When Supervisor Kevin Jeffries (1st District) observed that departments were being expected to absorb higher salary and pension costs without budget increases, he noted that the board and sheriff should discuss this issue.
This evolved into a longer series of comments, especially from Supervisor John Tavaglione (2nd District) about his perception of Sniff’s unwillingness to cooperate with the board’s need to shave costs.
“This is a very, very sad situation to see an individual that I thought had high hopes for this county and for this Sheriff’s Department fail us and fail the citizens of the county,” he said.
“Sheriff Stan Sniff is sitting on his butt like a child and continues to demand funds that we don’t have … This board finally stands up to the sheriff and says ‘Quit sitting on your hands like a child.’ That is what we need to do.”
None of the other supervisors spoke out for the sheriff, who was not at the meeting. Sniff has said for more than a year that budget cuts, essentially absorbing additional costs such as salaries or pensions without additional funding, can only be achieved through staff attrition for unincorporated patrols and jails.
The board believes that working with KPMG, an international management consulting firm, will yield new ways of conducting business and more efficient operations that will off-set much of these expanding costs.
Earlier in the week, Sniff appeared to lose the support of former 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone, who now represents much of Riverside County, including the Hill, in the state Senate.
“Offering NO solutions other than threatening to not staff our new $300 million dollar jail and slashing the number of sworn deputies in the unincorporated areas IF his financial demands are not met are totally inappropriate and not becoming of true leader,” Stone wrote on his Facebook page.
“My friends, there is only a finite amount of County Dollars to fund the County’s constitutional responsibilities. All stakeholders, including the Sheriff, must operate more efficiently to deliver the best services our constituents demand and deserve,” he continued.
“… To help the Sheriff run a more efficient operation, the Board of Sups hired KPMG to help in that endeavor to find efficiencies within the department … The Sheriff seems to find every excuse to discount and refute the findings of the expensive study than to try and embrace them to improve his operations countywide,” he urged Sniff.