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Supes Bail Out Sheriff’s Department, Deny Cuyama Aqua Park

The County Board of Supervisors dipped into its reserves Tuesday to wipe out a $3.4 million budget deficit for the Sheriff’s Department, but denied funding for an aqua park in Cuyama.

The County Board of Supervisors dipped into its reserves Tuesday to wipe out a $3.4 million budget deficit for the Sheriff’s Department.

Meanwhile, they declined to bankroll a $2.2 million aqua park for the small community of Cuyama.

The majority of the deficit for the Sheriff’s Department came from the upcoming retirement of about 30 Baby Boomer deputies. To prepare for the exodus, the department has already hired a group of newcomers.

This means the department is witnessing a one-year spike in salary costs as it trains the newcomers while awaiting the departure of the veterans, Sheriff Bill Brown told the board.

However, about $1.4 million of the shortfall was caused by the overestimation of sales-tax revenue, officials said.

The sales-tax revenue comes as a result of Prop. 172, a permanent half-cent sales tax passed by state voters in 1993 that augments the budgets of local public safety agencies.

Janet Wolf
Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf said she wants to provide support to a department that is performing well, noting that the bailout is a one-time cost.

“Sheriff Brown has started a gang unit in North and South counties,” she said. “I think that that is something the community values.”

Explaining the denial of the aqua park — it was a 3-2 vote — supervisors cited the Sheriff’s deficit and a sluggish government economy in California.

Supervisor Joseph Centeno, who voted against denial along with 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal — and whose 5th District includes Cuyama — could not conceal his disgust Tuesday.

“For the last 100 years or more, this county has not spent anything on Cuyama except for the services of the Fire Department and Sheriff’s Department,” he said. “The temperature there is 100 to 105 degrees every single day in the summer. ... We are forgetting about some very great citizens of this county, and we are going to again neglect their needs.”

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