NEW PORT RICHEY — It didn't take long for Pasco commissioners to reject Sheriff Chris Nocco's latest budget request.
Nocco sent a letter Tuesday asking the County Commission to add another $600,000 to the department's budget. But by Wednesday, commissioners had a stern reply: Forget it.
"We couldn't find $40,000 to feed our elderly. Where are going to find another $600,000?" said Commissioner Pat Mulieri, referring to the federal government's plan to trim elderly nutrition's subsidies.
"I don't know where we're going to get the money. Really there's no backing down."
Commissioners, who are in the midst of creating next year's fiscal budget, took up Nocco's request at a work session Wednesday morning.
While Nocco is free to determine how to spend local taxpayer dollars, commissioners noted that they control the purse strings.
Commissioners last year allotted $86.9 million to the sheriff's budget. This year, commissioners are considering $90.5 million. Now, Nocco is asking that his budget be increased to $91.1 million, but commissioners say they can't find the money he wants.
In his letter, the sheriff said the money could come from the county's reserves. Commissioners said they were reluctant to tap the reserves for equipment purchases, including new bullet-proof vests for SWAT and computer software.
Most of what the sheriff is seeking, however, is connected to the jail's third floor. The budget commissioners propose provides enough funds to hire additional staff for the third floor to relieve overcrowding, but more is needed for computer software and other necessities, he said.
At the end of the meeting, commissioners directed county staff to send a letter to Nocco to tell him it's up to him to figure out his budget, but don't expect to see any more money.
Rich Shopes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6236.