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.
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Logic, Reason, and Facts: A Review of the BCC's Answer to the Sheriff's Budget Appeal, Part I
Yesterday afternoon, the Escambia BCC finalized its response to the Sheriff's appeal of his 2017-2018 budget allotment.
The staff did an excellent job of capturing the issues, documenting them, and putting these issues into a very easy to read, easy to understand response. Kudos to Administrator Jack Brown, County Attorney Alison Rogers, Asst. Administrator Amy Lovoy, Asst. Administrator Matt Coughlin, Deputy County Attorney Charlie Peppler, and all the other staff that contributed to producing this response.
The cover letter is 29 pages that reads very easily and makes a very impactful statement on why the BCC's budget should be upheld by the Governor. The BCC response is based on logic, reason, and facts. It is noticeably barren of emotion. Just the facts, laid out very plainly with nearly 600 pages of associated back-up documents.
The entire package can be viewed and downloaded by any citizen by going to this page.
Contrary to what some people have stated, I have never said that the Governor has only seen 3 responses to these sorts of appeals over the last 30 years. What I have stated over and over like a broken record is that the Governor and his full Administration Committee have only had to make the final ruling on one of these appeals just 3 times in the last 30 years. Of course I understand that many more have been filed, but what I have also stated on numerous occasions is that this process is designed to foster a compromise before the Governor has to make a ruling personally. This is factual, and if some folks that appear to be tone-deaf would simply listen and not get their shirts in a knot (and then stuff the shirt in their ears) they would realize this! Only 3 times all the way through the entire process in 30 years. Listen.
So after spending three hours consuming every page of this document last night--several points bear further inspection/study/dissemination--starting with the following parts of the 29 page opening document/statement:
---Page 6. paragraph 2 and the table illustrate clearly that in the past 5 years, the Sheriff's personnel budget has increased an average of 5% yearly. ( don't have any idea where the 1% budget increase claim that we have all seen in videos comes from. Even if we only took the last 5 years' worth of increases and assumed no increases for the previous 5 years before that---you still have annual budget growth in the personnel budget of 2.07% per year over the last ten year period. This is simple, factual arithmetic, folks)
-- Page 8. Could the LETF have been used for more appropriate crime prevention initiatives? Training? Complex investigations costs? equipment? School Resource Officers?
P. 9. Why no use of a fixed percentage of total LETF yearly (how about 50%) to help pay for School Resource Officers? Any savings achieved by utilization of LETF funds for a portion of these SRO costs would have freed-up money from the Sheriff's general fund to help with his pay issues.
P. 12 . Why were the reported entry deputy salaries LOWERED after 2013?
P. 13 Why the discrepency between what is reported as starting salaries and what the actual starting salary is?
P. 15. The Evergreen Salary Study is not complete, has not been accepted by the BCC yet. Let me repeat. The Evergreen Salary Study is not complete, it has not been accepted by the BCC yet.
P. 16--last sentence on page.... Why has county staff had to wait three months (more than 90 days) for W-2's that were requested on July 20th from the Sheriff? These documents were necessary to compare to what has been reported as "pay" for deputies on spreadsheets. The county wishes to compare what is listed as "pay" to what was actually "paid" historically--however if we cannot get the documents to make this comparison---how can we make the comparison. Why have we not received one (1) W-2 yet from the Sheriff after waiting more than 90 days?
P. 18--The BCC's budget has yet to reach the levels we were at in 2007....2007 BCC total Budget was $458 Million. 2017 Budget is $456 Million. ( Sheriff's personnel budget is up 5% per year on average as illustrated on page 6).
P.22--This Graph clearly illustrates that it is simply not true that a better ratio of deputy per 1000 residents lowers crime. Not true, not borne out by the facts on the page.
P. 25 Very LIBERAL sick-leave payout policy that is much more genereous than the policy for county employees is putting pressure on the Sheriff's budget
P. 28 Because the Sheriff subsidizes his employees' health insurance costs to such a generous degree, his budget is being pressured. (BOCC employees' health premiums cost as much as 673% more in premium than do the Sheriff's employees)
There are many more examples of really stark issues with the Sheriff's appeal to be discussed. This is simply the first pass. I would encourage all citizens, and especially employees of the Sheriff's office, to look carefully at the BCC's response and the associated attachments. Our response is based upon logic, reason, and facts. We value law enforcement, public safety, and all of our citizens. But this year, even as we compromised and provided raises once again (6th year in a row with a 3% raise for deputies)--this fair budget is being appealed. I look forward to the upcoming 12-14 months as we work through this process........I stand behind our work and I believe the BCC will prevail in this process and that the Governor will not force us to raise tax rates on property owners in order to give the Sheriff an extra $2.7 Million.