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Pasco sheriff taking budget dispute to Tallahassee despite being urged to work out issues locally

NEW PORT RICHEY — When Pasco County commissioners shot down his request for an additional $4 million for new deputies last year, Sheriff Bob White took his fight to Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet.

But with the first hearing scheduled for Monday, Scott's staff on Friday suggested that officials settle the dispute in Pasco County, not Tallahassee.

So late Friday, White gave Commission Chairwoman Ann Hildebrand a proposal seeking half of the initial request for the current budget year.

White proposed the county pay for 21 new deputies, instead of the 28 he initially requested, plus cover the agency's nearly $945,000 in retirement and insurance increases for current employees for the remaining half of the year. Those costs would add up to about $1.9 million.

During Saturday's emergency meeting, commissioners preferred the offer made by Commissioner Ted Schrader, agreeing to pay $945,000 to cover retirement and pension costs for the year, but no new deputies.

The motion passed 4 to 1, with Commissioner Jack Mariano dissenting because he didn't want to give White any new money.

"I guess we're making a road trip," White told commissioners.

Commissioners, expecting a $10 million deficit next year, kept White's 2010-2011 budget flat at $85.5 million last year.

Top staffers for Scott and the Cabinet will take up the appeal, one of only two in the state, on Monday. They are expected to issue a recommendation, and Scott and the Cabinet would vote on March 9.

White served on Scott's transition team. Mariano said he thought the county had a strong case, given Scott's emphasis on cutting government spending.

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

Pasco sheriff taking budget dispute to Tallahassee despite being urged to work out issues locally 02/12/11 [Last modified: Saturday, February 12, 2011 10:33pm]
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