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County growth leads to healthy budget

William Ferchland
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Myriam Reyes-Cocoletzi, a legal office assistant in the El Dorado County District Attorney's office, is now transferring case files onto compact discs, thanks to 2004-05 fiscal year accomplishments as stated in El Dorado County's proposed 2005-06 budget.
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The $373.6 million budget for El Dorado County for the 2005-06 fiscal year has its eye on the burgeoning West Slope population, while some attention is paid to South Lake Tahoe.

Formal approval by the board of supervisors may come in September. Presentations and recommendations last month by Chief Administrative Officer Laura Gill revealed a budget aimed at hiring new sheriff’s deputies, preparation for electronic voting and West Nile prevention.

The deputies, needed for the El Dorado Hills expansion, are expected to be hired in threes for the next five years to battle the population boom.

“We’re pleased to see some growth back into our budget,” Sheriff Jeff Neves said.

The department could see as many as five new positions. Besides the three deputies, Gill recommended an evidence technician and systems analyst to be hired. The deputy additions will likely impact the district attorney’s office and public defender’s office.

Both sides have seen an increase in cases with 2005-06 projections offering no slowdowns.

An estimated 7,664 cases were handled by the district attorney’s office in 2004-05 while 400 more cases are forecasted to be added to the number for this fiscal year. Tahoe’s office typically oversees one-third of the total caseload, District Attorney Gary Lacy said.

A case management system called DAMION allows the prosecutors’ office to transfer photographs, reports and other evidence onto compact discs to save space and time. The system was updated in the 2004-05 fiscal year but a similar software program will allow the office to bring its bad-check unit in-house, lowering costs and boosting revenue.

At the public defender’s office, the caseload has risen 21 percent in three years. Last fiscal year the office represented a record 4,742 clients. It’s perhaps the reason why Gill agreed with the request of an additional deputy public defender and an investigator.

Gill is out on maternity leave. Jim Wiltshire, assistant chief administrative officer, said the proposed budget was submitted on June 14 and revisited on June 28 to give supervisors time to digest the material.

The June 28 meeting didn’t involve much discussion, Wiltshire said.

Dave Solaro, Tahoe’s representative on the board who is set to resign July 15 for health reasons, could not be reached for comment.

The county budget also includes $1.8 million for a new electronic voting system, which has to be implemented before January 2006 and be funded by a proposition and Help America Vote Act.

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