County commissioners from various parts of the state urged lawmakers Wednesday to approve a proposal that could end a long-running battle about how to split juvenile-detention costs. Commissioners told the House Appropriations Committee they are looking for a “50-50 split” on the disputed costs. But the House budget proposal calls for counties to pick up 57 percent of the costs, while the state would pay 43 percent.
The dispute centers on a 2004 law that requires counties to pay “pre-disposition” costs associated with juveniles waiting for cases to be resolved in court. The state Department of Juvenile Justice pays the cost of detaining youths whose cases have been decided — known as “post-disposition.” But the two sides have been embroiled in a series of legal battles about how to carry out the law, with the counties arguing they have been overcharged. The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled last year in the counties’ favor.
House Justice Appropriations Chairman Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, said Wednesday the proposal for counties to pay 57 percent of the disputed costs is “data driven.” But Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson, who is president of the Florida Association of Counties, said the local governments think 50 percent is fair. Also, a question remains about county requests to be reimbursed for overcharges in the past.
Robinson said counties are open to negotiating with the state on the back payments.