Seminole County wants state to pay back $4.8 million it's owed



SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Counties across Florida are accusing the state of stealing taxpayer money, which should be used for local projects.

Channel 9 on Tuesday obtained a letter from the Seminole County Commission demanding a refund for millions of dollars.

Sheriff Donald Eslinger took over the Seminole County's Juvenile Justice Center from the state in 2012, which he said saved taxpayers a bundle last year.

But according to a letter from county leaders, Florida still owes Seminole County $4.8 million it overbilled for juvenile detention.

"We have provided a better service at a cheaper cost, and now the option is that we want our money back," said Seminole County chairman Bob Dallari.

If the state decides to give the money back, it could go toward a number of services.

Seminole resident Chris Vinson said he thinks the money should go toward the county's roads, including State Road 419.

"It's in pretty bad shape.  I feel like my tires are about to fall off every time I'm going down it," Vinson said.

Dallari said the overbilling issue went in front of a judge twice and Seminole won both times. County leaders have been fighting the issue for five years.

"The state has an excess of over $1 billion," said Dallari. "Part of that $1 billion is the $4.8 million that is rightfully ours."

The Department of Juvenile Detention said the court ruling never ordered the state to pay the counties.