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Averting state appeal, Pasco sheriff agrees to budget compromise

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County Sheriff Bob White agreed Sunday afternoon to take commissioners up on an offer that gives his office money for pension and retirement costs but not for new deputies, Chairwoman Ann Hildebrand said.

That decision ends White's budget appeal, which was headed today to Tallahassee for a hearing before staff for Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet.

County commissioners, in an emergency meeting Saturday, voted 4-1 to offer to pay $945,000 in retirement and pension costs for current employees.

White said his budget was in the red because of those additional costs, but he said Saturday it was not enough. He also wanted new deputies.

But Hildebrand said he called her around 4 p.m. and said he'd take the offer after all.

"He basically just said I need the benefits and the retirement," she said. "I think it bodes well for the sheriff's department and the citizens of Pasco County."

White had appealed to state officials after commissioners voted to keep his 2010-11 budget flat at $85.5 million. He wanted another $4 million, most of which would have gone toward hiring 28 deputies to beef up patrols in two west Pasco neighborhoods.

Scott's office had been pressuring commissioners and White to settle the matter. Friday night, White met Hildebrand in the parking lot of an IHOP restaurant and gave her his proposal to ask for about half as much money, nearly $2 million in general fund revenue, to pay just for 21 deputies plus his current retirement and pension costs.

Commissioners called their meeting Saturday but showed no interest in paying for new deputies, citing a $7 million to $10 million deficit projected for next fiscal year.

Reach Jodie Tillman at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

Averting state appeal, Pasco sheriff agrees to budget compromise 02/13/11 [Last modified: Sunday, February 13, 2011 9:28pm]
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