County Budget Reduction Means 38 Will Go
OKEECHOBEE, FL. -- On August 27, 2013, Okeechobee County Sheriff Paul C. May advised he had met with his employees who will be laid off due to a budget reduction of 2 million dollars. Sheriff May advised that in order to make this budget work he has laid off a total of 38 employees.
Sheriff May’s budget for the current 2012/2013 budget is $14,824,611. He had requested a 15.3 million dollar budget for 2013/2014. The Okeechobee County Commissioners advised him he needed to reduce the budget even more, by $2.5 million dollars which would take the budget back to the 2004/2005 budget year.
Since the 2007/2008 budget, Sheriff May has reduced the Sheriff’s Office budget by $3,516,791. The number of staff has gone from 225 employees to 208 employees for current year and with the layoffs, staff will be reduced to 170 employees, which goes back to the 2000/2001 fiscal year.
Sheriff May also advised that in the last 5 years he has returned $6,071,103.01 in unspent budget funds and also returned to the BOCC an additional $1,056,765.46 in revenue received from other sources. Sheriff May also said that at 208 employees the shifts in the jail were staffed properly, the shifts on the road had enough Deputies and the Court Security was at a decent level.
“Now that we have done these layoffs, we will have had to go to what I consider to be an unsafe number in the jail, on the road and at the courthouse,” stated Sheriff May. Therefore, the Sheriff said he will appeal this budget to the Governor and Cabinet in Tallahassee.
The Sheriff also said that one of his employees advised him that the Okeechobee County website had employment applications for 3 full-time and 4 part-time positions. The Sheriff said, "Some of my employees expressed to me that they could not understand how we could have to lay off 38 employees and they could hire 7."
Sheriff May also advised that his current budget of 14.8 million dollars is the same budget he worked from in the 2005/2006 fiscal year. “I do not feel that working on the same budget this year that we worked on 8 years ago is unreasonable. I do not like the idea of going to Tallahassee but I will not ask people to do this job when I know the staffing level is unsafe and this goes for law enforcement, the jail, and the courthouse security.”
Although the Sheriff’s Office is the largest budget in the county, the Sheriff’s Office is operational 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. This budget includes road patrol deputies, detectives, narcotics unit, school resource officers, school crossing guards, administrative personnel, county jail detention deputies, cooks, nurses, clerical, control room operators, booking clerks, and maintenance plus courthouse security personnel.