LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - A tax group is claiming that Lake County leaders are using scare tactics to get a budget approved that includes an 18 percent property tax increase and a $3 million request for the Sheriff’s Office.
They believe some officials are misleading taxpayers, but some on the commissioners believe if they don’t give Sheriff Gary Borders a budget increase, he can make them do it.
“Commissions don’t win fights with sheriff’s,” said County Commission Chairman Jimmy Conner.
“He has the ability to appeal the board’s decision to the governor and the cabinet,” said County Manager David Heath.
The sheriff said the extra money is for the first deputy pay raises in five years.
Political watchdog Vance Jochim found the three most recent budget appeals filed by county sheriffs in Florida. In all three, the sheriffs settled for far less than what they wanted.
“We’ve heard that for maybe three years and never really knew the details behind it. So I went and researched it, and found it doesn’t happen that way,” Jochim said.
In a case involving the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, it was $3 million less.
“Big difference. And that tells you it’s not a rollover. The local voters have been misled into thinking it’s a done deal, that the sheriff is going to get whatever he asks for,” Jochim said.
The sheriff has not threatened to appeal to the governor if he doesn’t get the money for the raises.
Commissioners will vote on the budget in September.