by: Kevin McCarty Updated:
TACOMA, Wash. - Facing angry corrections officers and jail employees, the Pierce county council delayed a vote that would have cut 16 jobs and the county jail in Tacoma.
County Executive Pat McCarthy said the cuts are necessary because of revenue lost to smaller jails like the one in Fife. Tacoma and Lakewood, the two largest cities in Pierce county, now take misdemeanor inmates to the Fife jail because it saves money. People arrested on felonies must be housed at the county jail.
McCarthy said she was able to reduce a budget shortfall in the jail of $5 million to $3 million after first proposing a layoff of as many as 30 corrections officers and employees. But McCarthy said delaying cuts won't solve the jail's budget woes. "It's a reality check for us that we have to do something and we have to do it now, we can't avoid it," said McCarthy.
Speaking during the public comment portion of Tuesday's council meeting, several officers lashed out at the council, critical of the job cuts. After hearing the comments the council voted 4-2 to delay a vote on the layoffs by one week. Sheriff Paul Pastor, who has been critical of the job cuts, said the delay was a relief, but may not save jobs. "I don't know the answer to that," said Pastor. "I would like no layoffs but there is a very real financial situation."