The Tallahassee card

Published: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 31, 2007 at 10:25 p.m.

When Sadie Darnell became sheriff we had hoped that it would usher in a new era of communication and cooperation between ASO and the County Commission. But perhaps not.

This week Darnell complained that she wasn't informed until Wednesday afternoon that she was being asked to join the other county constitutional officers in cutting their budgets by 5 percent.

In any case, Darnell finds any talk of cuts unacceptable. If the commission won't fund her request for new funding and personnel, she'll take her case to Tallahassee and appeal to the governor and cabinet.

It's been many years since an elected sheriff in this county has felt obliged to go over the County Commission's head in search of more money. Frankly, we think it's way too early for this newly elected sheriff to be making that kind of a threat. Whatever case Darnell has to make for more money, it's a case that needs to be made locally first and foremost. Right now, the level of "communication" going on between the sheriff and the commissioners seems more petty than professional.

Darnell is correct that the commission has a responsibility to fairly fund the county's legitimate public safety needs. On the other hand, Tallahassee is pushing local governments hard to roll back property taxes, and cities and counties are under the gun to adjust their budgets accordingly. And criminal justice expenses make up such a substantial portion of the county budget that it is unrealistic to expect ASO to be held totally harmless as budgets are adjusted and tightened.

This is no time for Darnell to play the Tallahassee card. If anything, Tallahassee's mandates are the cause of the sheriff's problem, not the solutions to it.

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