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Friday December 19th 2014

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morgan: escambia commissionLater this week, the Escambia County Commission will be looking at three proposals from staff concerning the Escambia County Jail and the sheriff’s budget. County officials are working to address findings from a recently released U.S. Department of Justice investigation that indicated significant issues at the jail.

Some of the issues in the DOJ investigation pertain to inadequate staffing levels at the jail. Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan cited the same inadequacies when he recently presented the county with a budget request that was $18 million higher than last year.

Commissioners have said that the county cannot afford to accommodate Morgan’s request. At the same time, the DOJ is requiring that county officials and the sheriff’s department hammer out a plan to address the issues cited in its report.

On Thursday, the county commission will consider three options:

Proposal 1:  Eliminate 3 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) countywide, generating about $2.5 million in funds that could be used to hire about 38 detention employees; reduce the sheriff’s law enforcement budget to cover the necessary staffing and administration detention costs; explore the option of privatizing the jails; sheriff would return responsibility for the jails to the county.

Proposal 2:  Raise the millage rate countywide .1923, generating $2.6 million and funding 40 detention deputies; raise millage .5622, generating $7.6 million and funding 40 deputies and allowing sheriff’s employees to be paid for holiday time and overtime; raise the millage 1.000, generating 13.5 million, providing for $7.6 million for the sheriff and $$5.9 million to fund crime prevention and human services; sheriff would retain responsibility for the jails.

Proposal 3:  Eliminate 3 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) countywide, generating about $2.5 million in funds that could be used to hire about 38 detention employees; raise millage rate .3699 to address holiday and overtime pay issues at sheriff’s department; sheriff would retain responsibility for the jails.

The county commission will discuss these options at its Committee of the Whole meeting Thursday, at 9 a.m. inside the Ernie Lee Magaha Government Building in downtown Pensacola.