Clackamas County Sheriff: Budget Cuts Are Coming

Oregon City, Ore. — KXL has obtained emails from Clackamas County Sheriff Angela Bradenburg outlining budget changes that she says will result in a loss of jobs..

In the two separate emails send to her staff, Brandenburg says that a cut in county funding, and a rise in costs are combining to create several million dollar budget hole.  In March Brandenburg’s office told us that they were expecting a shortfall. In a statement from Public Information Officer John Wildhaber said, “While it is still early in the budget process, we know that our office is potentially facing a 3-million-dollar deficit as of today. The Sheriff is committed to working with the County to ensure we have the funding we need to provide the public safety services our community expects and deserves.”

A second email sent by Sheriff Brandenburg on April 11th, indicated an additional 2.25 million dollar shortfall and the need to cut 31 positions. The Sheriff says most of these will be positions that are currently unfilled. A sentiment echoed by Clackamas County Chair Tootie Smith, “…there is inefficiencies, there’s redundancies in her office, there may be programs she doesn’t need to be funding, that does not include patrol, does not include the jail, that does not include the jail.” Chair Smith tells KXL she doesn’t understand why Sheriff Brandenburg is alerting her staff to coming financial difficulties, when the Sheriff wont present a budget to the County Commission until May. “I think the Sheriff is overreacting and I think she’s not being, really reasonable.” Smith told our newsroom that she has been assured by Brandenburg there will be no changes to public safety due to the budget.

Sheriff Brandenburg points a finger at the County Commissioners for the funding shortfall, claiming they are taking funds once allocated to the Sheriff’s Office instead using the money for a new courthouse currently under construction in Oregon City.

“…ultimately the Board of Country Commissioners will have final say over the budget on June 22nd and, as you are aware, their focus is on paying for the 313 million dollar courthouse of of general fund support dollars.”

Commissioner Ben West, who ran on a platform of prioritizing law enforcement funding, says the county isn’t asking the Sheriff to do any more than what every department in the county is already doing, looking for ways to maximize their budgets.  “Every family in Clackamas County is sharpening the pencils and look at how they spend their checkbook dollars. That’s all we’re asking to do. We have not entered into the budget cycle yet, we haven’t even seen the budget yet, so I don’t know how she’s throwing around numbers, that, even this board is not aware of.”

KXL reached out to Sheriff Brandenburg for clarification on her statements and figures several times. Neither the Sheriff or anyone from her office replied to our request for an interview.