I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Budget Discussions May Get Heated, But We Will Settle this Budget......

The discussions thus far have been mild, with a few exceptions.

This will change in the near term but I firmly believe that although the discussions may get heated, we will settle the budget without outside influence.

The Sheriff's budget appears to be the most controversial.

Before I even got off the plane from the West Coast last week I heard on the radio that the Sheriff was "done" and that he was going to appeal our allotment of funds to his office to the Governor.  He can do this if he wants to--but  I sincerely hope we can settle the budget locally without the drama.

So far as I understand it, he can appeal our allotment to the state for his general budget, but he has no appeal mechanism for our LOST IV allocation.  I hope everyone realizes this and that between the two funds we can come to consensus locally and cooler heads will prevail.

Here is the story so far as I understand it as the new guy on the board....

For the last two years the Sheriff has received 100% of his requested allocation--100% no muss no fuss....  for the last four years, It appears to me that the Sheriff has received yearly budget increases of about 4% on average, year over year.  If we extrapolate the historical averages, this would point to an increase of about another close to 3.2% this year --------instead of what is being offered---- 1.6%.

For the last four years running, the sheriff's office employees have received yearly pay increases of 3% per year.  I have confirmed this with multiple sources.

For this year, the Sheriff's budget request is about 8% over the previous years' increase.

So far as I understand it, this is to allow for not only a 3% across the board pay increase, but also for a salary compression adjustment of 2%  that will help align the  local sheriff's office with other departments statewide.

I don't know if we can get all the way there in one year---- taking this all in one gulp.

My sense of the situation is that we will surely allocate more than what we have initially offered to the sheriff--perhaps as much as an additional $1.5 Million once the dust settles.  

It won't be what Sheriff has requested but it will be more than what has initially been put forward by the administrator.

Here's why.....

We all love our Military, LEO, Fire, and First Responders.

These folks do amazing work and run toward dangerous situations when everyone else  runs the other direction--away from problems....

I hate the fact that the atmosphere has suddenly grown toxic;  It is my hope that we will all take a step back from the ledge and realize it is in everyone's best interest if we work together locally to set the budget for the Sheriff's operating and capital needs going forward.

I honestly believe we will be able to do this, after spending the weekend communicating with multiple players intimately involved in this issue and after studying this matter meticulously over the whole weekend.

We will see how it plays out, but I believe our LOST IV allotment to the Sheriff will rise, as well as our General Fund appropriation.  I believe instead of a 1.6% increase, the  figure will be closer to $57.5 Million for LEO and Court Security Operations--representing a little more than a 3% increase--which I feel will settle the matter for this year--I hope because it should when the full picture is taken into account.

We shall see, though.

If this is still not adequate--then by all means the Sheriff has the ability to appeal the non LOST IV budgeted amount to the Governor.

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