Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Politics

State Rep. Danny Burgess takes civilian job with Pasco Sheriff’s Office

NEW PORT RICHEY — State Rep. Danny Burgess has a new boss — Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco.

Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, joined the Sheriff’s Office earlier this month as its manager of future operations, a newly created division in the agency. His annual salary is $85,000.

Burgess, an attorney, reported on his most recent financial disclosure form that he earned $101,790 in 2017 from his previous employer, the Lucas Magazine law firm. Burgess also is a judge advocate general in the U.S. Army Reserves.

Burgess’s new job with the Sheriff’s Office is a "professional and highly visible civilian position responsible for the administrative oversight, management, design, and quality control of the future operations division,’’ according to the job description. Burgess will coordinate with "other governmental agencies, colleges, universities, research institutions, non-governmental organizations and private sector businesses to develop partnerships and further the mission of the future operations division.’’

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kevin Doll said the job opening was posted both internally and externally on the sheriff’s web site for five days in July.

Burgess, in a text message, said, "I am proud to stand with our first responders in this new role and look forward to helping the Sheriff’s Office strategically grow to meet the needs of our growing county.’’

Burgess is part of a new, five-person "future operations’’ staff that also includes a civilian director, plus a captain and two lieutenants, according to the sheriff’s web site. The division answers to the sheriff’s chief deputy, Col. Jeff Harrington.

The division will work on strategic planning and accreditation, and will track the future development of Pasco County and the impact it will have on law enforcement and jail capacity. It also will oversee implementation of a new radio communications system.

"Danny Burgess is a military attorney with the judge advocate general (JAG), he is also a long-time Pasco resident and a community leader who has been intricately involved in planning the future of Pasco County,’’ Nocco said in an e-mailed statement. "As we are faced with explosive growth in this county, Danny, through his role in the future operations, will improve our agency."

Tasks lying ahead for the Sheriff’s Office include completing the state-financed Thomas Varnadoe Forensic Center for Education and Research in Land O’ Lakes and a permanent 1,000-bed expansion of the county jail, if voters approve a bond issue referendum in November.

Burgess sponsored the $4 million state appropriation for the forensics center in the state House of Representatives each of the past two years. But the flow of state aid wasn’t unlimited. Nocco’s $132 million county budget request for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 also includes six new positions in the child protection investigations unit "due to the state inadequately funding CPI this fiscal year.’’

Having a state representative financially tied to the Sheriff’s Office is familiar ground in Pasco County. The agency has contracted for legal work with Broad & Cassel, the law firm that employs outgoing House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes.

Burgess faces non-partisan candidate David "TK" Hayes in the November election for the House District 38 seat covering east Pasco and portions of central Pasco.

"I wouldn’t call it a conflict, but certainly it’s something that could draw his attention away from other matters,’’ said Hayes. "Maybe he’ll drop out of the race.’’

Reach C.T. Bowen at [email protected] or (813) 435-7306.

RELATED: A hand-delivered campaign issue.

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