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Letter from Sheriff Mike Scott to LCSO employees

Three (3) months ago - I personally communicated with you, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), and County Administration regarding our proposed budget for the Fiscal Year beginning October 1, 2012. By law, I was required to submit this budget on June 1st and in the interest of transparency, I let everyone know at that time and under no uncertain terms that I would not be returning monies left over from the previous year. Further, I communicated clearly that a portion of those monies would be distributed in the form of a bonus. Since that time, County Administration has been recommending that the BOCC in turn reduce our budget for next year by the amount we use for your bonus and earlier this evening the BOCC did just that.

Tonight’s BOCC decision does not affect your bonus in the coming weeks.
Tonight’s decision does not change anything at all with regard to your salary, benefits, equipment, or general work conditions this year or next.

My decision to retain the recapture dollars and issue a bonus this year was based on three (3) facts:
1. The BOCC approved a 3% pay raise last year for the Lee County Port Authority
2. Due to the troubled economy, we have gone long enough without a salary adjustment
3. Even with the bonus, our budget as submitted on June 1st represents a reduction from last year’s budget

Fiscal Year-end finances are being finalized, and I will communicate the amount of your bonus in the coming days. Meanwhile, I thank you for your continued patience as we navigate the roughest, financial conditions of our lifetime and do so without furloughs, layoffs, pay cuts, benefit reductions, or compromised equipment.

Mike

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The Lee County commission Wednesday moved forward with plans to slash $1.5 million from Sheriff Mike Scott’s budget because of his decision to bestow bonuses.

The employees of other constitutional offices and county departments have gone for several years without pay raises.

“We do our best not to micromanage his budget, but we have tried not to make different policy decisions on salary issues,” said Commissioner Frank Mann after the budget hearing Wednesday evening.

The commission can finalize the cut at the Sept. 19 budget hearing, Assistant County Manager Pete Winton said.

After Lee County Tax Collector Larry Hart heard in June Scott planned to give his employees raises, he told commissioners he would be watching how they handle pay increases, because his staff has gone without raises for five years.

“We didn’t do it to send a message,” Mann said, “but the message comes automatically.”

At the June hearing, Scott told commissioners that Port Authority police received bonuses and his deputies deserved no less. Commissioner Tammy Hall countered the bonuses were funded by additional revenue the Port Authority took in.

The sheriff’s office declined to comment. Scott instituted a policy Feb. 29 that prohibits employees from speaking to The News-Press.

The commission also forged ahead with a $598.5 million operating budget. It amounts to a 0.55 percent decrease from this year, according to county documents.

In achieving that drop, constitutional offices and courts cut their budget by 0.45 percent from last year, while county departments dropped their budget by about 0.61 percent, according to county documents.

Despite the decreases, the county still has a budget shortfall of about $30 million.

Commissioners on Wednesday also moved to give $200,000 in funding to Family Health Centers. The money will allow the center to apply for an additional $159,000 from the state. It will be used to provide medical care to the poor.

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