H-SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

Aug 9, 2011 9:21 PM by Ariel Wesler

Deputy concessions restore funding for Santa Maria Jail

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's deputies are giving up their three percent pay raises until 2015, saving the county millions of dollars.

Santa Barbara County Supervisors approved the move at today's meeting. The Deputy Sheriffs' Association has been in talks with the county to minimize some of the impacts from this year's budget cuts.

Nearly 60 positions were eliminated within the sheriff's department and the Santa Maria Branch Jail reduced its hours to three nights a week.

It's a huge break for many of law enforcement agencies in north county. With reduced hours at the Santa Maria Jail, they've had to transport those they arrest to the main jail in Goleta and that's taken officers off the streets.

"I want to personally thank the employees of the sheriff's department for doing this. It's helping all of northern Santa Barbara County," said Santa Maria Police Chief Dan Macagni.

"For them to really eliminate, not defer, but eliminate a raise, that they were going to get, they really stepped up in my eyes," said 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino.

It's enough money for the sheriff to restore hours at the Santa Maria Jail, keeping it open from 8p.m.- 4a.m.

"It's gonna be 7 days-a-week. It won't be 24 hours-a-day yet but at least folks will be able to sleep at night knowing that we do have a jail that we can take our criminals too," Lavagnino said.

But it won't happen right away. Getting the staff up and running again could take at at least a couple month.

"We've been in cutback mode. Now, we've gotta ramp back up, put people back into training," Lavagnino said.

Beyond the jail staffing, the sheriff also plans to restore a number of positions and bring back parts of the gang, narcotics, and aviation units.

The county is still in talks with other employee unions. Part of this agreement also allows the county to start negotiating changes to pensions and retirement costs with future deputies in 2014.

The Deputy Sheriffs' Association is made up of about 460 employees county wide.

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