There won’t be enough money in the King County budget for 2009 and likely well beyond, so officials expect “deep, searing” cutbacks will be required, particularly of the county’s criminal justice systems.
Each department is expected to cut 8.6 percent of their budgets, which will total about $33 million across seven criminal justice departments, due to a $68 million shortfall in the county’s overall 2009 budget.
“Never in my 29 years as a police officer have I seen a situation that so severely impacts our ability to deal with crime,” said Sheriff Sue Rahr.
She said she might be forced to cut as many as 100 deputies and potentially scale back or eliminate investigation of most fraud, Internet, property and identity-theft crimes where the loss is less than $10,000.
Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg described the county’s entire criminal justice system as one “that is in trouble.”
There will be large reductions in the prosecutor’s office, including as many as 30 deputy prosecutors losing their jobs, Satterberg said. There is already a hiring freeze in place.
“The cuts will devastate the entire public safety system,” Satterberg said. “We’re already feeling the pinch of being short staff. It’s our obligation to say we are in trouble.”
County Executive Ron Sims blamed the combination of the downturn in the state and national economies with the state and federally mandated required services the county must provide on the budget shortfall.
“King County has a fundamental financial challenge,” Sims said. “We’re going to work on a myriad of options to resolve this.”