JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colorado — The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office says they may lose 44% of their jail capacity, or 400-600 beds, to meet budget cuts proposed by the Jefferson County Manager's Officer.
According to a release from the department, Sheriff Jeff Shrader learned he would need to reduce the sheriff's office budget by 7%, or $6.7 million, by 2020 to meet the proposed budget reduction.
This would mean reducing the number of beds in the county's jail by 44%, the release says.
The County Commissioners office said they have decided to cut every county department by 7% to stay within budget.
Jefferson County Commissioner Casey Tighe blames TABOR for the lack of cash.
"With the growth all along the front range and growth in Jefferson county the needs for services have stripped the ability for us to keep pace with the limitations we have under TABOR," he said.
Shrader has expressed concern about how those proposed cuts would affect the community.
"The primary function of government is to keep people safe, Shrader said. "That is the primary function of government. And that budget reduction does not reflect that."
Tighe said he's sympathetic to the Sheriff but said all the commissioners agree that public safety is a top priority, but that everyone's going to have to come up with cuts.
"Public safety now constitutes about 67% of our general fund budget," Tighe said. "Well if you are going to have to reduce that general fund, when you have 67% of it going to public safety - both the Sheriff's Office and District Attorneys Office - you really can't meet the challenges we have of complying with TABOR and meeting those numbers without impacting the Sheriff's office in some way."
According to the release, a U.S. Marshal contract for jail beds would also be eliminated, resulting in a $1.8 million revenue loss for the department.
The department also anticipates leaving job vacancies open to reduce personnel costs, the release says.
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