CITRUS HEIGHTS, Calif. (KTXL) — The city of Citrus Heights is dealing with major cuts Thursday night as it faces a $4 million budget deficit – and the police department is getting the brunt of it.
Since the department takes up a large portion of the city’s budget, Chief Ron Lawrence said he knew what was coming.
“We knew that we were going to have a budget deficit, and the police department is 66% of the entire general fund budget for the city,” Chief Lawrence said.
Working closely with the mayor and city council, Lawrence had to cut 26 positions within his department.
“We suspended our Youth and Family Services Unit, which is our school resource officers, our youth services detective, the positions that do outreach to our youth and our community,” he told FOX40. “Our Special Investigations Unit, they are ones that work on drug and addiction and gang prevention violence.”
He said because he saw this coming, he was able to avoid layoffs. Those 26 positions, including 13 sworn officer positions, have been vacant for months.
Vice Mayor Porsche Middleton said this could have all been avoided if voters passed a 1% sales tax increase last November.
“Measure M, the tax measure that didn’t pass, we were hoping to get anywhere between $6 million to $12 million a year and that would’ve helped us to backfill those police department positions,” Middleton said.
To make up for those positions, Lawrence said he still prioritizes public safety and wants to ensure the community that the Patrol Unit is still fully staffed to respond to emergency calls.
However, he said the work that was being done in those now open positions will fall by the wayside.
“Since we don’t have an alternative funding source coming into the city in the foreseeable future, unless and until that happens, this is our reality,” he said.