Alachua County Commissioners Special Hearing
600 thousand dollars seems to be what is separating the Alachua County Sheriff from the Board of Commissioners. Tensions were high at the Board of County Commissioners special hearing today as the Sheriff made a compelling argument about why Commissioners should spend more of the money at their disposal on law enforcement.
Sheriff Sadie Darnell presented a clear message: she can't cut the budget any more. She said, "The Board of County Commission has to understand what my reality is and that's public safety first. They have to fund us before they go on to any other services or programs."
The Sheriff outlined the 6 million dollars she has already cut and warned that further reductions could cost the community it's safety. But although Board Members agree that law enforcement is critical, they say there are other aspects of public safety and quality of life to consider.
Commissioner DeLaney said, "I don't think the public in fact wants us to cut so that all we're funding is law enforecement...I think that there's really a lot to quality of life in a community: parks and recreation, access to healthcare, all kinds of things...affordable housing, all kinds of things that we sort of have our fingers in."
The problem is, where will the extra 600 thousand dollars needed come from?
Sheriff Darnell made several recommendations, including transferring excess funds from the Tax Collector's Office or using e911 money that's supposed to be used for technology. And Commissioner DeLaney had an idea of her own. She said, "The public doesn't want to know this, but if I'd had it my way I would have been willing to actually raise taxes this year to give our deputies, the jail staff, all the folks who work under the Sheriff a raise."
No decision has been made yet, however the Board Members have promised to consider the Sheriff's proposal as they decide on a final budget in the coming weeks. The Sheriff's budget has to be finalized by September, when public hearings are scheduled.
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