Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is asking his officers to take 56 hours of unpaid leave in fiscal year 2010 as the state of Arizona faces a $3.4 billion budget deficit that has forced Arpaio to trim his own budget by 17%. In solidarity, he has agreed to put a miniscule dent in his $97,000 annual salary by donating $2,613 to three charities set up by his agency which includes his own “Anti-Illegal Immigration Donation Fund.”
Arpaio blames his budget crisis on city council members that voted to limit his funds. Back in April, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Arizona voted to postpone the acceptance of $1.6 million from the state that would’ve gone towards Arpaio’s controversial immigration enforcement tactics which allegedly include racial profiling and discrimination. At the time, Arpaio warned that “(Board Chairman Max Wilson) better be careful on cutting my budget, since I am investigating the Board of Supervisors.” Since Arpaio’s empty threats didn’t work, he is now suggesting that county supervisors should take furloughs or salary cuts as well when in fact some of them already have.
County Manager David Smith says he has decided to take a $23,000 pay cut this year — an amount that dwarfs Arpaio’s meager “charitable contribution.” Maybe Arpaio wasn’t aware of it since Smith didn’t hold a self-aggrandizing press conference to announce his goodwill to the world. Arizona Central reporter Yvonne Wingett points out that supervisors Don Stapley, Andy Kunasek and Max Wilson already donate thousands of dollars to charities every year.
As for himself, Arpaio says he can’t take a furlough because he is an elected official. But what he could do is change the way he operates his police department to cut costs and fight crime. According to a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles published in the East Valley Tribune, Arpaio’s budget nearly doubled from $37 million to $72.5 million since 2001. As of 2008, his office created a $1.3 million deficit in just three months. According to the Tribune, these costs are all a result of his immigration-enforcement crusade that has netted a lot of brown-skinned traffic violators, but neglected violent crimes and homicides which have gone up by 166%.
The Phoenix News Times blog accuses Arpaio and many of his top commanders of “double dipping,” or collecting both retirement benefits and a salary. Arpaio reportedly is paid a pension in addition to his $97,000 salary from his former employer, the DEA.