by: Catherine Varnum Updated:
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Action News is investigating the cost of the Mayor Alvin Brown's security detail.
Brown was elected mayor in 2011 and with any political office, there are safety concerns. Jacksonville, like many cities, pays for security guards to escort the mayor around the community. Jacksonville's mayors have always had two Jacksonville Sheriff's Officers doing security.
Through a records request with JSO, we uncovered the cost to keep the mayor safe is substantial. Next year, $327,000 is budgeted.
"We could hire the FBI probably for less money than that," said Councilman Bill Gulliford.
In July, we asked for information about security cost for not only Brown, but for past mayors John Peyton and John Delaney. The undersheriff handed over documents Thursday, saying 2007 is as far back as they could track without going through boxes of paper records.
These numbers break down salary, pension contributions, even overtime. According to JSO records, in the first three months of Brown's first term, overtime costs for the officers came in at $34,000.
In 2007, the first fiscal year of Peyton's second term, overtime costs were about $28,000. Brown's office tells us there are more obligations during a mayor's first term in office as opposed to a second term.
The question is where to save. We've learned the city pays more for the two officers' pensions than it does for their salaries. In fact, Jacksonville is required to pay 116 percent of an officer's salary into the pension. That drives up the cost for taxpayers. It's $141,000 next year alone. Ten years ago, that number for two officers, was $14,000. The city is still working on a pension reform plan.