My sources that forwarded me that letter asked that I pull it down. They feel their openness will cause retaliation and may affect lawsuits pending. Because I am a person of my word, the story has been pulled for now but I would like to post a document that says most of the same things.
Five months after Sheriff David Morgan appealed his budget to Gov. Rick Scott’s office, the Escambia County Commission has voted 3-2 on a preliminary budget settlement.
The budget settlement is a four-year agreement that will implement a pay plan for deputies that will increase the sheriff’s budget by $1 million this year and pay the Sheriff’s Office $2.6 million each year for the next two years. The final year of the agreement would provide the Sheriff’s Office with $2.9 million
Morgan filed an appeal in October to the governor’s office asking for more than $2 million in additional funds for the 2017-2018 fiscal year to address pay compression issues that he said are causing his office to lose deputies faster than they can be replaced.
Funding for the agreement will come from cuts to outside agencies. Funding for outside agencies, except for Pathways for Change and Community Health Northwest Florida, will be cut by 50 percent. An additional $125,000 will come each year from the commissioners’ discretionary fund, which represents a reduction of 50 percent to discretionary funds.
The commission voted on the mediation agreement after a closed-door, attorney-client session Thursday morning.
The agreement will still have to be ratified with an formal interlocal agreement between the Sheriff’s Office and the county. The changes to the budget will also have to be approved with budget amendment votes.
“We are encouraged by the progress to properly compensate our deputies,” ECSO Chief Deputy Eric Haines said to the News Journal in a written statement. “Until the final agreement is signed by the BOCC, we feel it is inappropriate to discuss the details of the settlement.”
Commissioner Lumon May wanted to postpone the vote until it was clear how much each outside agency would lose in funding. He added 30 minutes was not enough time to debate a measure that would commit millions of dollars.
A list of 16 outside agencies was attached to the mediation agreement. The list included groups from the Pensacola-Escambia Economic Development Commission to United Way. The agencies were allocated a total of $1.3 million from the county, but it was unclear how much funding, if any, each agency could lose.
According to the county’s adopted budget, the county allocated $1.68 million to outside agencies.
The agreement limits funding for outside agencies in future years to $734,374.
May asked County Attorney Alison Rogers if the attached list was the complete list of affected outside agencies, and she said she did not know.
“That’s valid enough to postpone this vote, Mr. Chairman,” May said. “For the record, your legal counsel has told you, she’s not clear on it, but you’re still going to vote on it.”
Commission Chairman Jeff Bergosh said the agreement is a step forward but will require tough decisions.
“None of this is easy, and there’s a give and a take,” Bergosh said.
Commissioner Steven Barry said the agreement removes the right of the board to set the county’s budget and he was concerned about the language dealing with the law enforcement trust fund.
“The language referencing the LETF funds says ‘if possible’ and ‘when feasible,'” Barry said. “That’s a win on a relatively small dollar amount per year. We’re giving somebody else the authority to not just fund them, but to have another constitutional (officer) to have direct control over the way that we prepare the budget.”
The law enforcement trust fund is made up of money seized by police from suspected criminal activity and can vary in amount from year to year. In the last three years, the balance has swung from $342,000 to $746,000.
Commissioner Grover Robinson said he would do everything he could to support continuing to fund outside agencies any way he could.
“This is an agreement that moves us forward,” Robinson said. “Nothing happens until we have a final document here. I think there is merit in us moving this forward and still evaluating where we go. I think the people want to see us trying to negotiate through this. I don’t disagree, gentleman, with what y’all have problems with in here.”
Commissioner Doug Underhill said the board showed leadership by cutting their discretionary funds, but said he expected commissioners to get calls from the outside agencies facing cuts.
“The only answer to that is, is your budget more important than public safety in Escambia County, and obviously the answer to that is going to be no,” Underhill said. “Most of them will recognize that these are tight times, and we’re tightening our belts.”
Underhill said the only other option was to raise taxes, which, he said, nobody wants.
“We are moving away from that kind of personality-based politics and more toward policy and procedure-based governance,” Underhill said. “It took a lot of courage. I’m in a campaign this year, and so is Grover. And both of us voted for something that’s going to be unpopular with a lot of people. I think that says a lot for the type of government we have now here in Escambia County.”
Jim Little can be reached at email@example.com and 850-208-9827.
Even Underling leaves the table saying this is resolved to both sides satisfaction. Haines, Underhill, Champagne aka Team Morgan are all fine, but when it comes times for Hefe Morgan to sign on the dotted line after his representatives, Jack Brown, Alison Rogers and the commissioners, he refuses to sign.
An internal source at the ECSO claims Morgan never agreed to the 50% of the LET funds going towards SRO’s. That was the deal breaker. However, Haines goes to painstaking, agonizing levels to say that it was all these other issues in a video he does this past week full of charts. He goes on a 30 minute diatribe of how the county wants to “SCREW” the deputies. One absolutely false statement was that Henrique Dias was part of the negotiations leading up to the signing of the Interlocal Agreement. Henrique Dias has not been at work, or in Pensacola even for at least 6 weeks. Why would he chime in yet his name never appear anywhere at the 11th hour but not resume his duties as the CFO in this arrangement? After all, Haines only took this position in negotiating because Dias was MIA. He would be the one to argue the numbers being that he is the CFO and the Svengali of this chaos.
Putting aside the absolute ridiculousness & lies of this video, Rick Outzen even points out in an article titled “Is the BCC-ECSO Mediation Agreement Binding?”,
…However, the question is the mediation agreement binding. The mediation agreement only had one contingency -“3) This Agreement is contingent upon approval by the Board of County Commissioners.”
Outzen had another article in which he quoted Amber Southard as saying, “the mediation is a two-phase process that the ECSO considers the mediation agreement an ‘agreement in principal’ and ‘then the Interlocal agreement is definitive.'”
This is the press release from Hefe Morgan on the 19th,
“The attempt to resolve the budget appeal through mediation appears to have been unsuccessful.
“Based on communication after the mediation, the BOCC staff wants to include any future contributions or cost increases to Worker’s Compensation, Unemployment Compensation, Florida Retirement System, and Health Care, as part of what was agreed to as a salary fix.
“The BOCC will be free to increase their own subsidies and the other constitutional officer’s subsidies over the next three years while keeping the Sheriff’s Office at current levels. There would be no way to project what an employee’s salary would be in three years if subsidy increases have to come out of the salary dollars.
“We cannot go into the details of the mediation per a confidentiality agreement. More work was to be done to flesh out the details of the Mediation Settlement as evidenced the BOCC’s County Attorney (who was present during the mediation) drafting a more detailed Interlocal Agreement that was sent to us last week for review and input. There now seems to be some internal conflict between the Commissioners concerning the agreement.
“In addition, the BOCC is now attempting to unilaterally define the Mediation Settlement by casting aside the more detailed draft Interlocal Agreement. We asked the BOCC to join a conference call with the mediator on Friday to clarify the issues. They declined.
“If the Commissioners are now being told that the mediation settlement was always meant to be the final language in the Interlocal Agreement, we would encourage them to individually and directly contact the mediator for clarification of that point.
“We will not accept any settlement that prevents the full implementation of the salary study or fails to correct the gross underfunding of ECSO salaries. We are fully confident that when the facts are presented to the Governor that he will decide in the ECSO’s favor.
“We are attaching the working copy of the Interlocal Agreement that was abandoned by the BOCC. Their initial draft is in black. Our additions and clarifications are in red.”
Everything points to everyone except Morgan on the same page until Friday afternoon. If the reasons they point out were not the REAL issues as all indicators suggest (no balking up until the last minute), what could be the reason? Again internally, it is said to be the LET caveat. Morgan doesn’t want his promised political money touched. That seems to be the best explanation offered.
On Friday, Jeff Bergosh posted on his blog a story that illustrates the facts of what happened concisely. It reads (along with comments):
Haggling over that Brand New Truck…..
What would you think of a dealership that, after haggling back and forth over price with you and agreeing to a $50,000.00 “out the door” deal for your new truck–tried to change the price back to $54,999.99 at document signing???
The Dealership wants the absolute top-dollar for the shiny brand new truck.
The customer realizes the value of the truck, likes the product, does his research, does his homework, figures out what a fair price is, and he goes to the dealership–because he needs a new truck.
The buyer arrives on the lot and spots the brand-new, fire-engine red full-sized pickup he wants. Shortly thereafter, a salesman arrives.
The buyer takes a test drive, looks the truck up and down, and looks at the sticker knowing he cannot and will not pay that full retail cost of $55,000.00–because that price is an inflated price and other dealerships have sold similar trucks for around $50,000.00.
“Are you willing to make a deal on this truck–are you the decider on the price?” the buyer asks.
“Absolutely–make me an offer!” says the salesman.
“I’ll give you $45,000.00 total today–in cash, out the door” says the buyer.
“Okay, I’ll see if I can go that low, I’ll go run some numbers with the sales manager” The salesman states. A few minutes later, the salesman returns, and he looks the buyer in the eyes and says “We can’t go $45,000.00–but we can make a deal at $50,000.00.”
“Out the door?” asks the buyer
“Out the door” states the salesman
“You’ve got a deal–$50,000.00 out the door!” says the buyer. As the salesman and the buyer exchange a firm handshake and look each other in the eye, the buyer says “I’m going home to get the cash, my wife will have to approve this but she wants this truck more than I do, so you have a deal!” Excitedly the buyer heads home to get the $50K. On the way out the door, he calls out to the salesman “Get it prepped and gassed I’ll be back in half an hour!”
Upon his return, with his wife and a shoebox full of $100.00 dollar bills totalling $50,000.00 in tow–the salesman ushers the couple into a cramped cubicle….
“Here’s the $50k, where do I sign?” asks the buyer.
“Okay, well about that deal………our finance guy has been out for awhile, and the manager has overruled my deal–you see, we need to charge you for tag, title, fees, underbody rust protection, gap insurance, roadside assistance and also the dealer prep fees”
“Okay–I get that” says the buyer–“Subtract that out of the total and balance the deal at $50,000.00–because we made a deal–$50,000.00 cash out the door—we shook on that!”
“I’m sorry sir, the manager told me to tell you NO” said the salesman looking down, not making eye-contact…. “but here is some good news–once we add in the items I’ve been told MUST be added back, your new total price is only…..$54,999.99″ Now, do you want to start re-negotiating, I can go get my manager, we can take all that cash and work out some new terms for the difference……”
“Wow–are you serious?!?” Says the buyer. “I don’t want to re-negotiate, I want this truck for the price you and I agreed on and shook on–because that is the honorable way to negotiate!”
“I’m sorry sir, the manager won’t let me honor our deal” says the salesman looking straight down at the floor. “I’m really sorry…”
“You ARE SORRY, and Your dealership IS SORRY!” says the buyer
I think that says it all. Morgan backed out because his minions didn’t get it right. What a good leader? Why wasn’t he involve in the drafting of the Interlocal Agreement? Arrogance? Or was he and he was asleep at the wheel?