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County OKs $4.9 Billion Budget, Plus Team To Fight Human Trafficking

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors today approved a new $4.9 billion budget that includes $3.6 million in new spending on public safety and funds a commission on human trafficking.

The five supervisors unanimously voted for the fiscal year 2014-2015 budget this morning after adding $14.8 million in last minute adjustments and $426,000 to its contingency reserve that now totals more than $113 million, according to Board President Mike Wasserman.

Jody Meacham, spokesman for Supervisor Cindy Chavez, said that the new budget focuses on public safety issues, providing money for a county Human Trafficking Team to include employees of the Sheriff's and District Attorney's offices.

The budget will fund a sheriff's sergeant, two deputy sheriffs, one deputy district attorney, two criminalists and lab equipment to investigate and prosecute exploitation of people involved with commercial sex or labor, Meacham said.

Chavez, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen and Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith will serve as co-chairs of the Human Trafficking Commission to oversee efforts to fight against people forced into prostitution or domestic servitude, he said.

Supervisor Dave Cortese made the proposal to fund six full-time employees who will work on the team.

Chavez and Supervisor Ken Yeager also succeeded in placing on the budget $225,000 to fund a county Intimate Partner Task Force, focusing on domestic violence policies and recommendations, and about $136,000 for hiring a new deputy sheriff to cover "islands" in the unincorporated parts of the county.

Wasserman also added around $136,000 to add deputies to patrol rural areas of the county.

The budget included $427,080 for a unit in the county jails to investigate gangs and drug sales, along with funding for the county's real estate fraud prosecution unit, as recommended by county administrators.
      
--Bay City News

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