Clackamas County committee battles over sheriff’s budget

On Monday, the Clackamas County Budget Committee met to discuss the Sheriff’s Office budget.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 11:16 PM PDT
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CLACKAMAS COUNTY Ore. (KPTV) - On Monday, the Clackamas County Budget Committee met to discuss the Sheriff’s Office budget. This comes after what Sheriff Angela Brandenburg called contentious conversations between her and the county.

At the center of the alleged disagreements over the sheriff’s budget is funding for the new Clackamas County Courthouse, which is currently under construction.

“There’s $15 million that the county is looking to find in not just my budget, but all budgets throughout Clackamas County,” said Sheriff Brandenburg. “Mine is one of the largest budgets and they do not agree with me finding that money by eliminating positions. Instead, they say that I have money in my Public Safety Levy that can be used to take on additional costs that, on the back end, the county will be using to pay for the Clackamas County Courthouse.”

In her letter, Sheriff Brandenburg stated she tried to find a solution by eliminating 34 positions, many she says were vacant, but the county rejected the budget and instead took it over.

“We, I believe all my colleagues are united on this, that we are not going to cut any positions,” said Commissioner Paul Savas stated in Monday’s meeting. “We made that perfectly clear.”

The meeting started with nominating Mark Wells as the chair, which was approved.

Shortly after, Wells made a motion to allow Sheriff Brandenburg to submit her alternative budget.

“I move Sheriff Brandenburg submit her alternative budget to this committee and the county be directed to publish notice of a future meeting at least one day out to discuss the alternative budget,” said Wells.

“So the motion is to delay this proceeding?” asked Clackamas County Commission Chair Tootie Smith.

“If that’s what it entails, yes,” said Wells. “I won’t speak for my fellow members, but I would like to see both budgets and to look at our concerns, my concerns specifically that I have. Yes.”

A vote was taken that ended in a tie 5-5, meaning the motion failed.

The meeting ended with public comment, where several Clackamas residents spoke on the disagreements between the sheriff and the county.

“When I read a letter in the paper about the concerns our sheriff had about the budget process and then read name calling by Commissioner West that the Sheriff was using her deputies as a political pawn I got angry,” said Shirley Morgan, with Citizens for Public Safety. “It disrespected the entire department along with the Sheriff. I am not in support of the courthouse proposal that calls for all these departments to make cuts. When service is already stretched and it circumvents voters’ approval.”

Morgan went on to ask why the county excluded the sheriff from presenting her budget, to which County Chair Tootie Smith replied they didn’t and that the Sheriff had ‘ample opportunity’ to present a budget.

“As the budget officer of Clackamas County I propose the entire budget to the county and I am doing what almost every other county in Oregon does where the county administrator and the finance director presents the entire organization’s budget,” said Gary Schmidt, the Clackamas County Administrator. “I intended to do that this year with persuasion by the 6 elected officials of Clackamas County. They are allowed to speak tomorrow at the budget committee so that will occur.”

Public comments on the overall county budget are set to begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.