Is the BCC-ECSO mediation agreement binding?

Yesterday, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) issued a press release stating that Sheriff David Morgan would not accept the mediation agreement approved the Escambia Board of County Commissioners (BCC).

The agreement would have given the ECSO $9.1 million over the next four years to fund a pay plan for his agency. The ECSO said it tried to get the BCC to renegotiate the deal with the mediator, but the county had refused. Sheriff Morgan said he plans to appeal to the governor.

However, the question is the mediation agreement binding. The mediation agreement only had one contingency -“3) This Agreement is contingent upon approval by the Board of County Commissioners.”

This is no contingency for Sheriff David Morgan to also have to approve the agreement before it became binding.

The mediation agreement was signed by Chief Deputy Eric Haines and General Counsel Gerald Champagne on the behalf of Sheriff David Morgan.

Last night, Inweekly texted ECSO Chief Public Information Officer Amber Southard: “Is it the opinion of the ECSO that the mediation agreement is not binding?”

She did not reply.

On NewsRadio 1620 this morning, Chief Deputy Haines said the ECSO wants the mediation agreement rewritten to include possible increases in pensions, workers comp and  health care costs. He asserted that the line in the agreement (Clause 1b.) “…inclusive of all benefits and all raises for the implementation of a pay plan” did not intend to mean those items.

Read the Interlocal agreement drafted by the county.

In a press release sent last night, the county gave its version of what has happened since the mediation agreement was approved:

“While negotiating the language of the interlocal agreement, it was learned that the sheriff’s office wanted to delete language found in the mediated settlement agreement that stated “inclusive of all benefits, all raises for the implementation of a pay plan” and instead add language that would exempt or remove many personnel costs from the meaning of the word “benefits.”

“This included items such as retirement system contributions, workers’ compensation premiums, healthcare allocations, and any benefit costs associated with additional sheriff’s office positions created after the date of the agreement.

“To add this language would significantly change the original intent and financial scope of the agreement by making the commission responsible for any and all increases to benefit costs for an unknown amount of employees for three years.”