JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The mayor's budget has taken yet another controversial turn. This time the battle is over bonuses and why some employees are taking home more than one.
The Clerk of the Court is doling out more than $173,000 in bonuses. And 23 employees are getting two. In all, 34 workers will take home at least one bonus.
On Friday, Action News uncovered the list of workers who will take home a bonus with their paychecks Friday. Now, Action News has obtained a new list, showing many of them already received one back on August 3.
That means $4,000 for some employees, $8,000 for others. Action News has learned one Clerk of the Court employee is even walking away with a 2-time bonus totaling more than $11,300. And that's just since August.
"I think it's a kick in the gut," said City Councilman John Crescimbeni.
Hundreds of city workers are losing their jobs. Even more have to take substantial pay cuts. City services are being slashed. All in an effort to balance the budget. But in a time Crescimbeni calls the toughest in years, Clerk of Court Jim Fuller is lining the wallets of 34 of his employees.
"I wonder if Mr. Fuller's name were still on the ballot if he was running for re-election to the office if any of this would be happening. In my mind, the answer is no," Crescimbeni said.
Action News has obtained a copy of an e-mail sent to Crescimbeni on Friday after news first broke of the bonuses. It's allegedly from Fuller's wife Barbara. In it, she says in all capital letters "THERE ARE NO TAXPAYER DOLLARS USED IN ANY OF THE CLERK'S BUDGET. Did you read that previous sentence????? No taxpayer dollars!" she goes on to say, "If you and your cronies ran the city as well as Jim has run the courthouse, you might have some surplus funds, too!" Crescimbeni says her allegations are flat out untrue.
"It gets a lot of money from the state of Florida but because that isn't enough to cover the operation of the clerk of court we subsidize that with general fund dollars."
Action News has reached out multiple times to Fuller to get his side of this story. Our calls and visits have all gone unanswered. In the meantime, Crescimbeni is proposing the council no longer give the clerk any money from the city fund.
"If they have enough money to give out $174,000 in bonuses then that tells me they don't need the money I'm giving them from the general fund. And I intend to take it back."
Action News did some checking and it looks like the administration's hands are tied. We have learned there is nothing Employee Services can do to withhold the money from the designated workers.