Faced with rising costs, Commissioner supports tax increase

Yesterday on WRNE radio, Escambia County Commissioner Lumon May said he would support a property tax increase to cover the rising detention costs, provide an increase in the sheriff’s budget, and bring about pay equity for county employees, particularly long-time workers who are barely making ends meet.

The commissioner told Inweekly that he also wants to convene the County’s Public Safety Coordinating Council to look at the criminal justice system and come up with ways to cut costs and save the taxpayers money.

“If we can rein in our detention costs, I will be the first to advocate rolling back the millage next year,” said Commissioner May.

A key to managing the criminal justice and detention costs may be to settle with Justice Concepts Incorporated (JCI) so that they will release their 2013 study and ask them to review the county’s pre-trial diversion, work release, probation and parole programs.

In the draft of the report, JCI stated the county could save millions if it implemented its recommendations.


2 thoughts on “Faced with rising costs, Commissioner supports tax increase

  1. Lumon has to quit smoking that stuff before he agrees to be quoted. The line that they will lower taxes next year if they raise them this year ranks with some of the great prevarications ever told. It surpasses even I am Catholic but I never voted for John Kennedy.

  2. Specific to the projected shortfall in the Sheriff’s budget, the Board should vote to increase the millage rate for the Law Enforcement MSTU (Municipal Services Taxing Unit) that it [the Board] imposes upon some but not all property owners.

    I watched the Sheriff’s presentation during the Budget Committee of the Whole meeting. Sheriff Morgan was unwilling to face the Board to advocate for his budget and so stayed in the back of the room as Chief Deputy Haines took the heat.

    If I understood Haines’ response to Commissioner Underhill’s simple question, Haines did not know how many Deputies were then on road patrol, seemingly a simple answer. Haines said that he was “not a CPA” (Certified Public Accountant).

    Commissioner Robinson asked, “The City of Pensacola actually has a higher crime rate?” He needs to move into the city.

    Robinson excused his lack of support for the Sheriff’s budget, “We still don’t have an economy.” Interestingly, Pensacola Police Department (PPD) Lieutenant Donahoe (a resident of Milton in Santa Rosa County) recently used the same excuse when speaking to a city neighborhood association reportedly explaining why PPD had to prioritize its 911 calls.

    Not once did anyone clearly describe the right number of Deputies needed for the Law Enforcement function, the number of those positions that are now funded and the number of those positions that are now filled.

    No one brought up that about $10 million of county property taxes paid by city property owners is used to subsidize the cost of the Sheriff’s road patrols in Unincorporated Escambia County to include at Pensacola Beach and also in the Town of Century where the Sheriff has a substation located inside town limits.

    Lastly, this recent public discussion the Board and Sheriff should have been held much earlier in the year “before” the budget was put together. I watched all of the budget briefings. They did not inspire confidence. Further, some Commissioners had more important things to do and skipped budget workshops. There were at times only three Commissioners present. Commissioners May and Bergosh did not attend the Sheriff’s budget presentation.

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