Sheriff Morgan replies to Grover Robinson

I am in receipt of your letter dated June 14, 2013, same subject. We were initially encouraged by your proposal to use county reserve funds to address the underfunding and understaffing of the jail. This had not been offered as an option before.

Unfortunately, after my representatives met with you yesterday, you stated that you did not actually mean BOCC reserve funds but rather the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office’s own Internal Service Fund. This fund is not a “reserve fund,” but monies set aside for the sole purpose of buying leave.

The current ISF is only a fraction of the actual leave liability. Our $18 million leave liability is a direct result of the severe understaffing of the jail (which the county has been aware of for many years) and the difference in the way the BOCC and the Sheriff handle accrued compensatory leave, overtime, and holiday time.

The BOCC employees are paid for their holidays and paid out annually for their compensatory time. By contrast, the Sheriff’s employees are not paid for holidays or compensatory time. Rather, the Sheriff’s employees simply accrue the hours in their leave banks, because BOCC does not fund the Sheriff’s budget adequately to pay these accrued balances. While you may have confused the ISF for reserve funds, the abolishment of the ISF and the resulting available monies had already been factored into negotiations of the committee. It is one of the reasons I have been able to reduce my initial request to a $7.6 million dollar increase.

While the confusion between county reserve funds and the ISF was clarified by you, it doesn’t put us one dollar closer to fixing the issues at the jail which are identified in the JCI study in 2011 and in the current DOJ findings.

It also does not address the compensation disparities between BOCC and ECSO.

I am also hoping that it was either a matter of confusion or imprecise language when you stated in your letter, “Finally, I respect your opinion, and if you believe the management of the jail is beyond your capacity, I am willing to relieve you of your responsibility as agent.” I want to make it perfectly clear that the management of the jail is well within my capacity and the capacity of my staff. The management of the jail is not even in question by the reports or by the national experts who wrote them. What is in question is the staffing and funding of the jail. I am not sure if you read the portions of the JCI study or DOJ report that praised the management of the jail as well as all the positive changes that have been made during my tenure in office. This can mostly be attributed to the hard working line officers and staff at the jail. It is fully within our capacity to continue these positive changes.

I can confidently report that we have either already corrected or are in the process of addressing every single DOJ issue with the exception of funding, a matter over which I have no direct control. What apparently is not within my capacity is to get the BOCC to realize that additional funds are required to properly run the jail in accordance with Constitutional and legal requirements, whether it is run by the BOCC or the ECSO.

If the Jail transfers from the Sheriff to the BOCC, you will face a myriad of issues. The following are, in my view, among the most significant.

Splitting the Jail from the control of the Sheriff is, in essence, “de-consolidation.” If one is to believe that consolidation saves taxpayers money by reducing duplication of services, then it stands to reason that de-consolidating the jail by separating it from the Sheriff’s control will result in duplication of services. I am attaching a document that outlines the potential additional costs if the jail returns to the county under either the BOCC HR Rules or the Road Camp Collective Bargaining Agreement between the BOCC and the PBA. This attachment is a summary of what my representative discussed with you yesterday.

You may have been told that the costs in this attachment for assuming responsibility of the jail can be lowered or even eliminated by simple changes to your Human Resources (“HR”) Rules. Indeed, your budget personnel have expressed this view to my representatives. I cannot state strongly enough that we do not share that opinion. If the prospective BOCC Jail employees are covered by your HR Rules as classified employees, we don’t believe that the BOCC would be legally successful in creating a second class employee, through HR rule changes, not entitled to the same benefits as the rest of your employees. We have recent precedents of employees who have transferred back and forth between the BOCC and the ECSO who were only allowed to transfer their maximum caps of Annual and Sick Leave. They were NOT permitted to transfer accrued holiday or compensatory leave.

We are not even of the opinion you could legitimately place the Jail staff under your HR Rules as classified employees. We believe that if you accepted the Jail employees, they would automatically be covered by your Road Camp Collective Bargaining Agreement. Attached to this letter is the PERC Certification between PBA and the BOCC. Included in the agreement is “All classified civil service employees within the appointing authority of the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners with the job classifications of: correctional corporal, correctional officer trainee, correctional officer, road correctional officer, and medical correctional officer.” There is a separate PERC Certification for Correction Sergeants. In our opinion, the majority of our Jail Staff, once transferred as employees, would immediately be covered by your existing CBA, thus affording them all of the benefits outlined in the attachment.

We have researched the topic thoroughly to form these opinions, but even if you disagree and attempt to create a second-class employee, one cannot dispute that transferring these employees to the BOCC will be a change in the terms or conditions of employment. As a result, there will most assuredly be negotiations and potential unfair labor practice claims, arbitrations, and impasses. This matter is far more complex than a simple change in HR Rules as may have been presented to you.

Transfer of the Jail to the BOCC is not “cost neutral.” In fact, our projections are that it will prove very costly, even before the cost of the DOJ issues is addressed. An impartial and objective review of our projections will show that transfer of the Jail from the Sheriff to the BOCC will only come at a substantial one-time cost in excess of $3 million and a recurring budget increase of over $5 million. These costs are all IN ADDITION to the funds necessary to fix the issues identified by the Department of Justice. The decision on placement of the jail should be a ‘no brainer.’ It should remain with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office with adequate funding, and an annual MOU with the county. If you get accurate information on the various options I believe you will come to this understanding as the best and most cost- efficient means.

Moving forward, I will require a BOCC commitment that, regardless of the source of funds, the BOCC will negotiate in good faith to provide the additional funds needed to address adequately the DOJ findings. We need no more sideshows about whether the Jail is now adequately managed, whether the BOCC can more effectively manage the Jail, or whether the Jail should be privatized. The DOJ specifically stated that additional detention staff and additional mental health staff ARE NEEDED. Regardless of who manages the Jail, additional funds will be needed – the additional staff needed cannot be hired without these funds. The issue is finding a source for the needed funding, and not anything else.

My personnel will be actively engaging and answering questions throughout this process.


David Morgan, Sheriff
Escambia County, FL

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone