Escambia County

Heated debates continue at jail transfer workshop

August 27, 2013

By Jesse Farthing

Tuesday’s Jail Transfer Workshop meeting managed to resolve a few key issues before once again devolving into heated debate surrounding the sheriff’s internal service fund.

The county was requesting 40 percent of the sheriff’s second dollar fund, which they get from writing tickets, as part of the jail transition, but ECSO did not want to give up that fund. When it came time to negotiate the county’s use of the sheriff’s training facility, Chief Deputy Eric Haines offered to allow full usage by detention deputies if they were allowed to keep their second dollar fund to pay for all training costs.

“You want 40 percent of the tickets we write,” Haines said. “Is the county going to start paying for our overtime to go testify to get these tickets?”

The ECSO has saved $300,000 in their second dollar fund, solely generated by law enforcement, which is 90 percent utilized by law enforcement according to Haines.

County budget director Amy Lovoy said that Haines was arguing about money they’ve never used.

“Just because we’ve saved money for future expenses doesn’t mean we’re not spending it or don’t need it,” Haines responded. “The county is of this opinion that nothing should be saved for the future.”

“It just seems that every fund that the sheriff has needs to be decimated and turned over to the county,” he continued.

Ultimately the sheriff agreed on a one-time contribution of $50,000 from the second dollar reserves and $5,000 annually to the jail.

Vehicle replacement for the jail was an extended discussion that could have resolved much more quickly if the negotiators had been listening to one another throughout.

The sheriff budgets $2.9 million of local option sales tax money for vehicle replacement, and Gordon Pike requested ten percent of that for jail vehicles. Haines offered $100,000, stating that the jail should not need to replace many vehicles and certainly would not need ten percent.

Pike’s offer to meet in the middle at $200,000 seemed to go unheard.

The negotiation ended with the sheriff agreeing to pay out $1 million over the next five years ($200,000 per year) after lengthy arguments.

The sheriff’s ISF again drew extended debate and criticism before Interim County Administrator George Touart called for a daylong recess to allow for Lovoy to write up a Memorandum of Understanding with the hope of coming to some agreement between ECSO and the county.

The meeting will resume Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m.

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  • Ames August 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    CJLewis- I agree with you on most things, and I learn a lot from your contributions to this blog. I disagree, however, on your position on city residents and their tax contributions to go beyond city limits. Folks know, when they live within city limits, that they will be levied city taxes and fees that are exclusive to city residents. Living in the city is a choice, and there are services and benefits to city residents that are not enjoyed by county residents. Perhaps the City Counsil will consider making tax/fee changes to balance the costs city residents incur as a consequence of their geographical locations.

  • jeeperman August 28, 2013 at 7:28 am

    ” $300,000 in their second dollar fund, solely generated by law enforcement”

    So please tell us minions how many tickets were issued by jail staff which would have added $$ into this “second dollar” fund.

    I am thinking ZERO.

    So why does King George think that 40% of that fund should go to whoever operates the jail ?

  • Jacqueline August 27, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    Is this really what the four commissioners who voted to take over the jail were expecting? When they asked Mr. Touart if he could transition the jail for a certain amount, did they foresee that he would be raiding any funds from the Sheriff’s Office that he could identify?

    Does the “second dollar fund” money come back to the Sheriff’s Office from the state? Do other counties demand that money from their sheriff’s office?

    Is anyone keeping a running total as to how much this is costing us so far and where we are in relationship to the original price quoted for the jail transition (was it $2.6 million?) I assume the county staff is and if so, I would love to see some hard figures reported.

  • CJ Lewis August 27, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Learned something here. Got it. The true cost of the Sheriff’s Office next year is projected to be $2.7 million greater whatever the bottom line ends up in the Sheriff’s General Fund budget. Does the Sheriff control his own pot of Local Option Sales Tax dollars or must be submit a request to the Board that has the final say? Florida Statute §30.49 describes the Sheriff’s budget process. It does not mention Florida Statute §212.055(2)(d) that includes “a sheriff’s office vehicle” in the meaning of the term “infrastructure.”

    What happens if the Board balks at giving up even $2.7 in LOST monies to the Sheriff to buy new vehicles? Can Sheriff Morgan also appeal his LOST budget submission to Governor Scott or is Sheriff Morgan’s statutory right to appeal limited to his General Fund budget? Sheriff Morgan has already indicated he will appeal his General Fund budget. If he is shortchanged on the LOST budget and appeals to Governor Scott, does Governor Scott even have any authority to override the Board.

    It would be interesting to see what would happen if Sheriff Morgan included funding for the 44 Deputies that he says in his April 30 budget submission letter that he is short “and” full funding for vehicle replacement “and” new vehicles for the 44 Deputies. The real cost of running the Sheriff’s Office, even minus the Jail, is humongous. Because all City residents are County residents, the only truly fair tax equity approach is for the Sheriff’s Law Enforcement function to be funded 100% by the existing Municipal Service Taxing Unit (MSTU) paid only by property owners outside of city limits.