JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Worker's compensation claims threatened to eat away at more than $10 million in savings the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office made this year. It also put the Matrix House, an award-winning drug treatment program, at risk of closing. In a contentious back and forth battle, the city wanted JSO to pay for outstanding claims.
Undersheriff Dwain Senterfitt stood before the city council finance committee with a solution Tuesday. The sheriff's office says it found money to help fill the hole left by outstanding claims. The sheriff’s office says it found $3.3 million in savings – in addition to the $10.5 million city council is allowing the department to use next year.
Some city council members say other city departments don’t get to keep their savings.
“How am I going to get the fire department next year to save money if what they saved at the end of the year gets taken away and given to another part of city government,” said finance chairman John Crescimbeni. “I think we’ve destroyed any internal incentive to continue to save.”
But Senterfitt disagrees. He says it may look like JSO won the battle, but that’s simply not true. “We’re still cutting 74 police positions, cutting 22 corrections positions; we’re cutting 154 civilian positions. We haven’t gotten everything.”
The city still projects it needs $2.7 million for unexpected claims from Jacksonville Fire and Rescue. Crescimbeni said the process is a “crap shoot” because the city won’t know the final worker's compensation costs for this year until mid-November, after the new budget year is in place.
City council finance committee members also approved a bill Tuesday that will move $2.7 million from the risk management reserve fund into the city’s worker’s compensation case reserves.