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Budget battle heats up

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Updated: 9/10/2012 8:27 am
Jacksonville, Fla.-- The battle over the budget between the sheriff and city council is getting even more heated.

Right now, council is telling the sheriff he's millions of dollars in the red due to workers' compensation claims. The sheriff is crying foul and demanding to see city documents. He's also threatening to sue.
There's a lot of bickering going on between the city and the sheriff. It's a tough budget year and now the sheriff is even more fired up after being told there's a nearly $5 million shortfall from workers' comp claims. "Show me how it's calculated," said Sheriff John Rutherford.
The sheriff asked for the information and so did Action News. Friday, we obtained a handful of workers' comp claims signed by top officials at JSO. "I wish they'd fill my request as quickly as they filled yours," said Rutherford.

There are nearly 500 outstanding claims, but the sheriff said all week, his claims hadn't changed.

We took the paperwork to city council President Bill Bishop. "The information comes from his department. It would seem to me, if they didn't know, there's a communications disconnect," said Bishop.

The sheriff says the paperwork we were given is sent over to the city's risk management office, and it then looks at all the claims.

While the back and forth continues, one thing is clear. Everyone wants to know why this is just now coming up. "My patience is all out," said Rutherford. "Who knew what, and when did they know it. It's hard to believe this all just showed up yesterday," said Bishop.

A spokesman for the mayor's office tells Action News the sheriff's request is being filled, but it's big. That's why it's taking more time. The budget has to be balanced by the end of the month and approved when the new fiscal year starts October 1st. City Council will hold the first of its two public meetings on the budget next Tuesday.

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