Awkward Moment Between BOCC and Sheriff Nienhuis, Game Continues Unresolved
BROOKSVILLE – If you missed yesterday’s meeting between Sheriff Al Nienhuis and the Board of County Commissioners, the only thing you missed an awkward two minute exchange, akin to that of a “Hello Newman” moment from the hit sitcom Seinfeld. But in reality, the “Cold War” between the BOCC and HCSO is a serious issue and taxpayers have a front row seat to a long-running dispute that doesn’t seem to be getting any closer to resolve.
Sheriff Al Nienhuis argues that he needs an additional $1.7 million to properly fund the Sheriff’s Office, and at the very least, bring the agency up to par with other counties that have similar demographics. The Board of County Commissioners denied the increase, claiming that the money isn’t there and that residents would have to pay higher taxes if the Sheriff gets what he wants.
Nienhuis doubts the tax hike would be necessary, stating “I don’t believe that’s true and here’s why I don’t believe it’s true, Ad valorem going up about $1.3 million, and between sales tax and revenue sharing is about another million, so at very conservative estimates, new money coming into the county is about $2.2 million.” Nienhuis also says the BOCC granted its employees a 3.4 % pay increase, even though Sheriff’s Office employees have gone a 5 years period without a raise at all.
Chairman James Adkins says “The Sheriff has $900k of unspent funds that has been put back in his budget and another $230k for contingency.”
The issue came to a head on October 10th, when Sheriff Nienhuis announced that he had filed an appeal with the Governor’s Office, in hopes that a review board could resolve the dispute.
On October 19th, the Sheriff’s Office received confirmation that a public meeting had been scheduled for Tuesday, October 25th at 9:00 a.m. But when the Sheriff took to the podium it seemed like no one knew what to say. A short conversation took place between Chairman Adkins and Nienhuis but everyone just looked around as if nobody knew why he was there. CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO
Prior to the meeting, RNRF received unconfirmed reports that the Sheriff might be prepared to accept an offer of approximately $600,000 dollars to avoid further litigation. Chairman Adkins confirmed that a resolution could have been made but did not provide a firm number. Adkins did say that said $600K would be the maximum offer or it could be less. But no offer would be made because neither side would mention why the meeting was taking place to start with.
Unless another meeting is scheduled prior to Election Day on November 8th, the decision will be left up to the Governor’s Office to bring this year’s budget fiasco to a close.
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