Escambia County Sheriff proposes larger jail budget
Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 03:34 PM CDT
ESCAMBIA COUNTY -- It's a huge political football.
Both Escambia county and the Sheriff's office are addressing concerns in a recent department of justice study of the jail.
Both sides are negotiating different proposals but we seem to be a long way from a solution.
After much back and forth in the media between Sheriff David Morgan and County Commissioner Gene Valentino the issue of what needs to be done at the county jail was before the board this morning.
County administrator George Touart and staff presented four proposals to address the Sheriff's budget.
Two of which involved raising taxes or eliminating a proposed cost of living raise for all county employees.
County administrator George Touart said, "I don't have the appetite from the board to raise millage, so therefore, what do you do? It's a very difficult decision to even make a recommendation to the board as to what to do about the jail."
Two proposals would have the Sheriff returning responsibility for the jail to the county. The fourth proposal calls for exploring the option of privatizing the jail.
Reporter: "Do you want to continue to manage the jail?"
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said,"I've made no secret of that fact. We think it's appropriate under the Escambia county sheriff's office. We've run it efficiently. It's just that they
continue to defund it every year. And you can't meet those requirements if you continue to defund the jail."
"I have no prejudice for or against privatization. But the citizens want us to make sure we not raise their taxes. I'm obligated to look at everything," said Gene Valentino, district two commissioner.
Judy whiting lives in Escambia county. "I'm retired. My husband is retired. And we know that taxes have to be raised, if they can't find any other way," she said.
"I feel like the sheriff's office does need more funding. You know the crime in this area is getting really bad," said Diane Fillingim, Escambia county resident.
Representatives from Escambia county and the Sheriff's office will continue to negotiate on these proposals, but the county is also looking to ask the department of justice for an extension on this time frame.