May 19, 2023
Dear Clackamas County residents,
When I became Sheriff, I took an oath to protect and serve you. An important part of that oath is ensuring that I use your tax dollars responsibly, so my office can provide the services you expect and deserve. Because of my commitment to you, the County is attempting to silence me. And now I need your help, and your voice.
When I asked you to support the Sheriff’s Public Safety Levy in 2021, I promised you I would not allow the County to use the Levy as a slush fund, so that is why I am speaking out now. The County has created its own budget for my office that diverts its General Fund obligation to provide law enforcement services. This is a misuse of your tax dollars.
For the first time in the history of Clackamas County, the County is excluding me from presenting my own budget to the Clackamas County Budget Committee. They are doing this because I refused to agree with the County’s plan to charge the Sheriff’s Levy and the Enhanced Law Enforcement District (ELED) twice for the same materials and services. They have also created a new administrative overhead cost that I have refused to charge to the Sheriff’s Levy and the ELED.
My office is facing an unprecedented nearly $5 million general fund reduction beginning in July. This is happening because the County has to find $15 million in the General Fund to pay the annual payments on the new courthouse.
I responded to the County’s General Fund reduction to my budget by taking a hard look at what General Funded programs, services, and materials my office could eliminate with the least amount of impact on services to you. At the end of the day, I was forced to make the extremely difficult decision to eliminate 34 positions, most of them vacant.
The County rejected my budget and refused to let me cut positions, because cutting law enforcement positions is not a good look for a County that “supports” public safety, when it’s trying desperately to pay for a courthouse the County is committed to building.
The County wants to make up the shortfall by charging the Sheriff’s Levy and ELED with higher allocated cost rates (fees for internal County services) and their newly created and inflated administrative overhead costs. When I told them that it was wrong to charge the Sheriff’s Levy and the ELED this way, they took over my $146 million budget. They created their own budget for my office with no knowledge of Sheriff’s Office operations and with no input from me or my financial experts.
Next week the County will present their budget for my office, but I will not be silenced. I will be presenting my own budget information to the Budget Committee and they will have a choice to make: Misuse your tax dollars, or Accept a budget that eliminates Sheriff’s Office positions, or Fully fund my office and actually prioritize law enforcement in Clackamas County.
At the end of the day, two of your Commissioners can stand in front of the construction site for the new $313 million courthouse and laud their support for public safety. However, a building doesn’t keep you safe when you call 911 for help on the worst day of your life – your Sheriff’s Office does.
On Monday, May 22 the Budget Committee (which is comprised of the Board of County Commissioners and five public members) will convene. If you want law enforcement truly prioritized in Clackamas County you must let your Commissioners know where you stand and how you want your hard-earned tax dollars spent now. You can find their contact information here: https://www.clackamas.us/bcc or you can use any of the County’s public participation options listed below.
It is my honor to protect and serve you.
Sheriff Angela Brandenburg
How to Participate: As always, public feedback and community participation are very important to establish budgets. Public comments on the overall county budget will begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. Each service district public hearing features a public comment period near the end. You will be prompted by the emcee to speak when it is your turn. Comments should be kept to under three minutes.
Attending Public In-Person: All budget meetings will be held in person in the Board Hearing Room (Public Service Building, 2051 Kaen Rd, Oregon City, OR 97045, FL 4). All members of the public visiting the Public Service Building should sign in at the front desk of the first-floor lobby.
Speaking During Public Comments: The Zoom platform allows you to provide live comments over video or the phone. During the District and Agency hearings on May 22, 2023, the Clerk will call for public testimony at the appropriate time. The Clackamas County Budget Committee's public hearing will be on Tuesday, May 24, 2023, at 6 pm. For all public testimony, please use the "Raise Hand" feature on Zoom and you will be called in the order received. Zoom link: https://clackamascounty.zoom.us/j/83401390463
Emailing Your Commissioners: The public has the option of submitting comments via email to email@example.com. Those submissions will not be read aloud during the public comment periods but will be sent to the relevant committee members and added to the record. Please email public comments with the Subject Line of either “County Budget public comment” or “[Service District Name] public comment.” Parties should include their name and area of residence.