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Reed Calls for Millions in New Cuts for County : Budget: Top administrator suggests trims in law enforcement and other departments, including closing probation camps for youths.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

As officials struggle to find ways to shrink Los Angeles County’s health care system, the county’s top administrator Friday called for almost $48 million in new budget cuts in law enforcement and other government programs, including the closure of five probation camps for youthful offenders.

In another sign that the county’s worst-ever fiscal crisis is far from over, Chief Administrative Officer Sally Reed said she will urge the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to reduce spending in 11 county departments ranging from the sheriff’s to the district attorney, from probation to parks.

“We have no choice,” Reed said. “The recommendations we are working on are extremely difficult.”

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In a memo to the supervisors, Reed said the newest round of budget cuts became necessary after the county failed to win approval of several crucial measures in the final hours of the state legislative session Sept. 16.

They would have provided $72.7 million in relief to the financially strapped county by funding the probation camps, mostly in the San Fernando Valley area, and allowing the supervisors to reduce general-relief payments for the poor and cut services to the mentally ill.

The supervisors, while preoccupied with the health crisis that still threatens to force deeper cuts in health programs, will discuss Reed’s latest proposal on Tuesday as well as other options she outlined, including an across-the-board cut of most departments.

Reed’s principal proposal immediately sparked the anger of law enforcement officials, who have vigorously fought proposed budget cuts in their departments during the past several months. Sheriff Sherman Block has filed a lawsuit against the proposed cuts.

As part of Reed’s proposal to save the $47.7 million, the Sheriff’s Department stands to lose about $16.5 million, while the struggling Probation Department would be cut by $6.7 million. The district attorney’s office would lose about $6.5 million.

In addition, Reed’s plan would cut Superior Courts by $5 million, the public defender’s office by about $4.2 million and Municipal Courts by about $2.4 million.

The Sheriff’s Department’s second-in-command was adamant Friday about fighting the new proposal. “If they are saying another $16 million, we’re saying absolutely no way,” said Undersheriff Jerry Harper. “We can’t afford any portion of that $16 million.”

Harper said the Sheriff’s Department has already been cut by $57 million this year, has had to close three jail complexes over the past two years and has a new high-rise jail in Downtown Los Angeles that it cannot afford to open.

The Sheriff’s Department has partially blamed the escape last week of three men from the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic on budget cuts and crowding from the state’s “three strikes” law for repeat felons.

Times staff writer Jeffrey L. Rabin contributed to this report.


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