Economy Could Force Police Protection Cuts

Budget woes are forcing tough choices in North County

Like most California cities, Escondido is grappling with a budget deficit. So a city government subcommittee is discussing serious cutbacks to balance Escondido's $5.9 million budget shortfall. During a wide-ranging discussion on Wednesday, city department heads were asked how they would deal with a possible 3-percent cut in their budgets.

Police Chief  Jim Maher said he might have to cut 19 officers to reach that reduced budget goal, the North County Times reported.

Other possible cuts were discussed at the "brain-storming" session, including the closure of a branch library. City Manager Clay Phillips suggested that public employees might be willing to take voluntary pay cuts of up to 10 percent, to balance the budget and avoid layoffs.

The possible police department layoffs are, at this point, simply a starting point for discussion. Last spring, Escondido considered cutting 11 police officers, but decided against it.

The city's budget deficit is caused by a big decline in sales tax revenue, because residents are spending less in local stores.

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