JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In just a few hours, Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford is squaring off with the city finance committee for what one can only describe as a budget battle.
The sheriff is asking the city to give him $10.5 million from what he managed to save this fiscal year.
"With our savings this year, we can keep 114 police positions on the street and keep the jail open," Rutherford said.
But Finance Chair John Crescimbeni has a few questions for the sheriff.
"Why should he get all of his savings and everybody else eats the shortfall in the revenue? That doesn't sound fair," said Crescimbeni.
Right now, throughout every city agency, there's around $26 million in savings. But Crescimbeni says there's a revenue shortfall this year of around $10 million. So, in actuality, there's only roughly $16 million to play with and Crescimbeni doesn't think the bulk should go to JSO.
"I don't necessarily subscribe to the philosophy that the sheriff is somehow magical and that he spends every dollar 100 percent efficiently. I think he should get the same scrutiny everyone else in city government gets," said Crescimbeni.
On Thursday, Sheriff Rutherford said at $396 per person for police services, JSO gets significantly less funding per capita than other police agencies.
"We're still spending less per capita, a lot less per capita, than any other major city in the state," Rutherford said.
But Crescimbeni says that's the way it should be here in Jacksonville.
"Jacksonville is consolidated government so we better darn well be spending less on every service we perform," he said.
The Council Auditor's Office is not recommending the sheriff get this money.
In a written response to the legislation the office lists several concerns including:
1. The Council Auditor's Office is strongly against using one-time money to balance the budget.
2. There is considerable uncertainty regarding the additional cost impact to the Sheriff's Office from the new larger courthouse.
3. There is the possibility for emergency overtime during the hurricane season.
4. It would not leave the city with flexibility to provide for emergencies during the hurricane season and to deal with other uncertainties for the remainder of the fiscal year.
The Finance Committee meeting is scheduled to start at 9:00 a.m. The sheriff is expected to have his hearing at 10:15 a.m. Rutherford has been given additional time, a total of two hours, to plead his case.