The protective net county government weaves under 4 million people — jailing crooks, inoculating residents against disease, investigating child abuse and treating the mentally ill – would fray noticeably under spending cut plans that get a hearing later this week.
With the property tax money county government relies on to cover most of its bills plummeting, the county’s budget boss has asked each department to show what the fiscal year that starts March 1 would look like with a 10 percent cut to the overall $1.3 billion budget.
The answers have come back in grim detail: fewer checks on children who are the subject of custody disputes; the shutdown of prosecutors’ units dedicated to elder abuse, identity theft and public assistance fraud; longer pretrial waits in jail as a shrunken courts staff scrambles to catch up on a backlog of paperwork.
“Public safety is the number one priority of government. That is why government exists,” District Attorney Pat Lykos said last week. In a statement issued Monday, she said, “Further reductions in force will be devastating, delaying justice and putting the public at risk.”
I guess the public will have to get used to it, because until it demands something different, this is what it will get. If you’re not affected, or don’t know anyone who will be affected, by this, you’re a very lucky person.