MEDFORD, Ore. — The sheriff’s office is the latest department to see budget cuts in the past few years, the number of full time employees has gone from 1,075 to 866 about a 20% drop over the span of five years.
County leaders say complicating things was a $4 million increase in public employee retirement service payments. Jackson County Administrator Danny Jordan says the past five years have been difficult for the county’s budget.
“We’ve lost revenue for county services, state and federal funding has been reduced,” Jordan says. “A lot of state program budget cut backs in the current year and more expected in the next year and our federal funding which is the biggest because we’ve lost 23 million dollars in federal O & C recipts.”
As a result departments ranging from the County Assessor to the District Attorney’s Office have seen cuts and now the sheriff’s department. Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert says her office is taking a hit by having to eliminate an open attorney position entirely.
“That used to be 20 attorneys,” says Heckert. “We had one attorney leave in the last month or so and because of the budget we will not be able to fill that attorney’s position.”
With increasing case loads and decreasing staff, Heckert says her office may have to follow the lead of other counties.
“Most counties have either stopped prosecuting some type of case, so that may be the route we may have to take come July when these effects take effect,” Heckert explained.
On top of dealing with the decrease in federal funding, Jordan says making room for an unexpected increase in retirement services this year has been one of the big factors.
“Getting $4 million of increases in costs for retirement when you have no revenue means you have to cut $4 million in expenses,” explained Jordan.
Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert says the county hasn’t seen this few attorneys since 2005 to 2010.