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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Sheriff told to whittle budget
The commission okays only a $2.7-million spending increase.
By DAVID DECAMP, Times Staff Writer
Published September 6, 2007
Sheriff Bob White listens in the rear of the room as Col. Al Nienhuis presents their budget case to Pasco County Commissioners. A divided County Commission agreed to give White's office $2.7-million more for next year, a 3.25 percent increase to $86.3-million.
[Times photo: Brendan Fitterer]
NEW PORT RICHEY - The slicing and dicing of Sheriff Bob White's bid for a big budget increase ended Wednesday.
His agency will get more deputies next year only if Florida voters shoot down deeper property tax cuts this winter.
A divided County Commission agreed to give White's office $2.7-million more for next year, a 3.25 percent increase to $86.3-million.
However, it fell well below White's original request for an $11.2-million increase - a spending proposal that triggered a two-month standoff and angry exchanges throughout four budget meetings.
White was left huffing again that the commission was short-changing law enforcement instead of making it the overriding priority.
"I think the Sheriff's Office should be a higher priority to all of you, and it isn't," White said.
"That's a very unfair statement," Commissioner Michael Cox shot back.
The sheriff asked for 109 new positions, including 25 patrol jobs. He got none.
By a 3-2 vote, however, the board set aside $710,000 to hire and outfit 10 deputies - but only if voters reject a Jan. 29 statewide referendum to lower property taxes by raising the homestead exemption. Commissioners Ann Hildebrand and Ted Schrader voted against even putting that money in reserve, citing Pasco's tight finances.
If the referendum passes, Pasco stands to lose an estimated $25-million in tax revenue for 2009.
By a 4-1 vote, the board also ordered budget staffers to figure out how to pay for at least 10 school crossing guards costing up to $200,000. Commissioner Jack Mariano voted no, arguing the sheriff should find the money himself.
But no more school resource officers will be added, forcing the School Board and Sheriff's Office to shift officers from elementary schools to the new middle and high schools.
Commissioner Pat Mulieri pushed hard to add more deputies with no strings attached, partly paying for them with $400,000 earmarked for social service agencies. But a 3-2 vote - with Mulieri and Schrader in the minority - fended off the social service cut.
Mulieri, like Cox, had pushed for adding more deputies. But county officials warned that the Land O'Lakes jail expansion could force Pasco to hire 60 new detention officers next fall, requiring them to carve out more money in tight times.
"You're not going to be able to get away with not staffing a correctional facility," County Administrator John Gallagher said.
Pasco still faces a nearly $2-million shortfall for next year. State-ordered tax cuts led to a $15.8-million hole in the county's $1.2-billion budget proposal.
Half of the current deficit could be made up with savings from a hiring freeze begun this summer, budget director Mike Nurrenbrock said. The rest has to be figured out by a tentative Sept. 24 meeting.