(KCPW News) Salt Lake County is looking at larger cuts than anticipated to correct a $13 million shortfall expected next year. This could significantly impact public safety, according to Sheriff Jim Winder. Winder calls the 7.5 percent proposed cut “draconian,” and says it would require closing the newly reopened Oxbow Jail or eliminating up to 500 beds at the main county jail.
“We’re not going to be releasing rapists, murderers and you know child molesters on the streets. But somebody is going to be walking out the door,” Winder says. “And we’re already to the point where we’re releasing nearly 800 a month to overcrowding releases. Now you add on to that the closing of Oxbow or more units over there, the system becomes increasingly bogged down and at some point people’s lives are affected.”
And District Attorney Lohra Miller says the cut would be equivalent to eliminating 21 prosecutors or the entire civil and litigation divisions. She says layoffs would be inevitable, and these would likely take place in victim advocate services or by scaling back prosecutions for domestic violence, felony DUIs, or other offenses.
“I’m not going to tell you: You have to raise taxes. What I am going to tell you is that in making the $1.6 million in cuts that we’ve been requested to make, we are going to have to cut some critical services that are going to directly affect public safety in Salt Lake County.”
The county council listened yesterday to presentations by most of the county’s elected officials about the impact of the proposed cuts. Mayor Peter Corroon had recommended a 2.5 percent cut for their departments after vetoing a property tax hike approved by the council last month. But yesterday, the proposed cut was increased to 7.5 percent to offset mandatory increases to employee salaries, benefits and retirement contributions.