County budget buzz

Escambia County’s proposed budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year will be posted on the county’s website today or tomorrow. As we suspected, former County Administrator Janice Gilley left the county without completing the budget, even though she was supposed to have been working on it since February.

The budget process states that the county administrator was to complete the budget by July 1. Since Gilley’s termination on July 17,  the interim administrator, Wes Moreno, has had to scramble to pull figures together.  It didn’t help that the budget director had a vacation  that Gilley approved for the following week.

Little negotiation was done between Gilley and the constitutional officers. The increases submitted by Sheriff Chip Simmons weren’t analyzed and went unchallenged by the administrator, forcing the Board of County Commissioner to deal with it during its workshop next week.

Gilley served two years without ever putting together a proposed budget.  The 2020-21 budget was put together largely by Clerk Pam Childers’ staff.



1 thought on “County budget buzz

  1. When the budget is published, how about the Inweekly Budget Research Department ask Escambia County to explain the Sheriff’s Municipal Service Taxing Unit? The millage rate is 0.6850 mils. It’s a lot of money. This year a bit over $9 million. The Sheriff’s MSTU property tax is only paid by certain county property owners. The current budget document says that the Sheriff’s MSTU is imposed by the BOCC “to offset certain costs associated with Sheriff’s protection.” What costs? The budget document does not say. Does anyone know? Does Sheriff Chip Simmons know? What extra Sheriff “municipal services” are given to property owners in Beulah, Cantonment? When I asked county staff about the Sheriff’s MSTU several years ago, they told me that they did not know what the money was used for. They just put together the budget together that the BOCC mostly rubberstamps probably without carefully reading it or knowing what they are voting for. Although the Sheriff’s name is used, the tax is imposed by the BOCC. With respect to the Sheriff’s budget request, the BOCC should also ask Sheriff Simmons if he knows why the Sheriff’s crime rate was always below the state average when Sheriff McNesby was in office (8 years) and then always above the state average for all of Sheriff Morgan’s 12 years. What is he going to do bring crime in Escambia County closer to the low levels in Florida.
    In 2020, the Florida “per capita” crime rate was 2,152.3. The Escambia County Sheriff’s 2020 per capita crime rate was much higher at 3,126.6 but the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s 2020 per capita crime rate was much, much lower at 894.0. It would be impractical for everyone living in Escambia County to move to Santa Rosa County. Perhaps the BOCC could invite Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson to give them a presentation on modern crime fighting techniques. Whatever they’re over there doing is working.

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