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SAN JOSE � Faced with a $164 million budget shortfall this year, the county executive’s office is suggesting that the Santa Clara district attorney’s long-standing $12.7 million juvenile dependency contract be reduced from three years to 12 months. Yet this recommendation comes after the county courts had already passed on an alternate three-year bid that would have been more than $4 million cheaper than the DA’s office. The county executive’s contract-reduction proposal would apparently spare the jobs of 11 level-four deputies in the DA’s office � for now. County Supervisor James Beall Jr. had asked for a review of the DA’s contract last month, raising questions about its price tag. The contract will be discussed at a Board of Supervisors Public Safety and Justice Committee meeting Thursday. The Santa Clara County Superior Court has already approved the DA’s three-year contract, but the Board of Supervisors must also sign off before it becomes final. If the DA’s three-year dependency contract proposal is approved, the court would pay about $8.7 million, with the county covering the balance at roughly $3.9 million. If the county approves only a one-year contract with the DA, the cost would roughly be $4 million, according to the executive office report. The county share would be about $1.2 million. When asked Friday for his thoughts on the county executive’s one-year recommendation, DA George Kennedy called it “stupid.” A one-year contract “does not provide added budgetary security to the county,” he stated in a memo released Monday. Besides, Kennedy added, the current contract, set to expire June 30, can already be terminated at the end of any given fiscal year. An alternate vendor � the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley’s Legal Advocates for Children & Youth � had submitted in December an $8 million bid to the court for the full three-year contract. LACY’s proposal also included 15 attorneys to the DA’s 11, according to the bid documents. It was eventually rejected by the courts. “As a nonprofit organization, LACY has lower costs and can provide a competitive advantage,” according to the executive summary in its bid. Jennifer Kelleher, LACY’s directing attorney, feels her organization submitted a “well thought out, cost-effective counter-offer.” While LACY is still interested in the dependency contract, Kelleher was unsure if her staff would be ready to take over by July 1. Reached by phone Monday afternoon, Beall said he hadn’t yet read the county executive’s report recommending the extension of the DA’s contract for another year. Beall also said he hadn’t seen a copy of LACY’s bid, and he seemed surprised when told it was $4.7 million cheaper than the DA’s proposal. “I would want to look at that,” he said. If county supervisors ultimately decided to sign with a different vendor, such as LACY, layoffs could hit the DA’s 11-attorney dependency unit, according to George Doorley, the DA’s administrative services manager. The DA’s dependency unit provides legal services for abused and neglected children in proceedings, while Santa Clara Juvenile Defenders, a private law firm, represents parents or guardians. The county counsel’s office represents the Department of Social Services. Beall, who chairs the Board of Supervisors, said all county departments have been asked to make cuts this year.

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