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Friday September 19th 2014

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Progress made on jail transfer

By Jesse Farthing

The Escambia County Jail Transition Workshop meetings have finally reached their finale. After weeks of debate, the county and sheriff’s office seem to have reached an agreement that will satisfy both parties, putting an end to the weekly meetings.

The Wednesday morning meeting was devoted entirely to the sheriff’s internal service fund – the fund that was created by the sheriff’s office to allow them to plan for and fund accrued employee leave pay – and what was to be done about it. The county has been pushing for the sheriff to do away with it entirely, but Chief Deputy Eric Haines has consistently argued that to do so would leave the sheriff’s office unable to pay out unexpected employee leave.

The two sides have agreed to abolish the ISF. In turn, the sheriff will take the approximately $1.5 million left over in the ISF, along with unspent lapsed salary money, and return it to the county at the end of the fiscal year. The county will then turn around and place that money back into the sheriff’s budget to pay for employee leave for the following fiscal year.

Beyond that, the Memorandum of Understanding being drafted should allow for a line item on the sheriff’s budget adding known leave liability (estimated at $1.1 million) along with allowing them to hang on to the lapsed dollars from the pervious year to help fund the unexpected employee leave. Unused money at the end of the year will be returned to the county.

The agreement will still need to pass the Board of County Commissioners and be signed by Sheriff David Morgan, but for now the debates are at an end.

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