Commissioner on DA cuts: 'We didn't reduce anything'

Commissioner on DA cuts: 'We didn't reduce anything' »Play Video
District Attorney Rick Wesenberg says that he may be forced to let one of his Deputy DA's go if the department doesn't get a boost in funding from the county.

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- The Douglas County budget committee recently turned down the District Attorney's plea to fund an additional $93,000, which he says would cover pay increases without costing one of them a job.

DA Rick Wesenberg says that about 98% of his budget supports personnel.

With the contract for his Deputy District Attorney's calling for a pay increase, he says the budget won't support the staffing level he has now without the increase in county dollars.

He also says that there will be dire consequences for the community if he has to cut a position. "The reality is, that if I have to cut that much money out of the budget, it's going to be personnel," he said. "I have 10 deputy DA's, and if I eliminate one that's a 10% reduction of my deputy DA's.”

Some in local law enforcement believe losing a deputy district attorney will have a negative effect. "What that means for us in public safety is that there are potentially going to be some misdemeanor crimes that won't get prosecuted," said Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin.

Douglas County commisioners say they want to make sure the public understands that the budget committee did not make any cuts.

Joe Laurance, the board chair, says they approved the budget that was given to them. "We didn't reduce anything," he said. "We approved the budget he presented us and added $29,000 to that. This other discussion of $93,000 happened after the dialogue and the budget presented to us by District Attorney Wesenberg."

Douglas County commissioners say they plan to revisit this issue and vote on a final budget by the end of June.