|An appeal of the Escambia BCC's adopted budget allocation to the Sheriff's office would be time consuming, data intense, and there would be no guarantee that the Governor would side with the Sheriff.......he might very well side with the BCC!|
While we are still in the process of working through our budget for the FY 2018--there is growing speculation that unless the BCC fully funds the 8% year-over-year budget request from the Sheriff's office---the ECSO will appeal our adopted budget to the Governor.
The Sheriff has very publicly stated there would be no compromise. He has communicated this personally to me as well.
Currently, Sheriff has requested a total of nearly $60 Million for the FY, an 8% increase above and beyond the $55.4 Million he requested and received last year.
I am on record stating I do not believe we will be able to fully fund the complete 8% increase the sheriff has requested this year. I am not voting to raise the year over year total millage rate--taxpayers are giving all they can currently. I have also stated publicly that I believe what we ultimately get the sheriff will be somewhere between the 1.57% increase that has been offered (over last year) and a 4-4.5% increase year over year. I've also stated that it is my desire to see the street deputies get a pay increase---along with our corrections officers---if the monies could be found. I won't support one without the other.
I've also stated that I do not believe this will go all the way through the process to the Governor's Administration Commission. Here's why:
Over the last 30 years, only a couple dozen of these appeals have been filed. With 67 Counties in Florida, this means over the last 30 years there have been the possibility of more than 2000 such appeals. Of these, only 4 have made it all the way through the process to come before the Governor and his full commission ( one settled after appearing before the commission, but prior to a ruling being published). This equates to about 1% of the total statewide sheriff's budgets in this 30 year period being appealed, and of those appealed, the 4 that were heard by the full commission represent just over 16% of the total that could have been heard . (The process can be time consuming, and the parties must appear before a first committee to present their respective cases, and then the parties must appear before a committee comprised of the Governor and his Cabinet Members' aides, and if not settled at this point, only then do the parties appear before the Governor and the full commission.)
Recently the Hernando County Sheriff filed an appeal, which led to scrutiny of his budget, which let to the discovery of about $2 Million in funds that should have, and eventually were, turned back over the the Hernando County BCC. Eventually, the County and the Sheriff in that case settled their dispute.
Alachua County has seen a few instances of tension, with one ruling being handed down in favor of that sheriff for an amount that was far less than what was requested going into the process.
So the notion that this will be a quick, easy victory for either side is illogical. I hope the issue can be settled here locally because I know that any outcome dictated downward from Tallahassee (in the unlikely event a locally generated appeal were to even get that far) would be a Pyrrhic victory for our community--no matter which side "Wins."
"The process is designed, and the intent of the whole thing is to have the parties to these disputes settle the dispute short of the process going all the way to the Governor" said a source that is very familiar with this process in Tallahassee with whom I spoke recently. She continued "There were many, many years where no appeals were filed statewide."
Of the four that did go all the way, with which this employee with whom I spoke was familiar, one settled before the final ruling by the commission--the other three are linked here, here, and here.
So yes, this is a convoluted, time-consuming process with no pre-determined outcomes and an apparent goal of forcing parties to compromise.