Jacksonville Senators split on final passage of bill giving Sheriff T.K. Waters more budget authority

Clay Yarborough_Tracie Davis
Tracie Davis said the Sheriff didn't talk to her about the bill and lied about trying to meet with her staff.

A Jacksonville Republican’s bill giving his consolidated county Sheriff more budget latitude passed the Senate, but not with the support of the Democratic Senator from Duval County, who accused that Sheriff of lying to her about trying to meet with her on this bill.

SB 1704, sponsored by Sen. Clay Yarborough, would allow a Sheriff, including one of a consolidated city/county government, to move funds “between categories and code levels” without the approval of the County Commission or Budget Commission after their budget is approved by the legislative body. This independence extends to procurement and personnel issues.

Yarborough said the bill simply clarified the intention of previous legislation giving Sheriffs inside consolidated governments the same authority as others, essentially applying those rules to Jacksonville and Sheriff T.K. Waters.

The bill reads like a preemptive cure for politicians who have tried to thwart the budget authority of the independently elected Sheriff at times.

Locals will remember an ultimately failed move from 2020 by former City Councilman Garrett Dennis, now a senior staffer for Mayor Donna Deegan, to hold half of the Sheriff’s budget in abeyance “below the line.”

Asked by Sen. Tracie Davis if this bill blunted that authority to freeze funds by Council, he said this bill simply clarifies that Jacksonville’s Sheriff has the same authority others do.

A “highly annoyed” Davis ultimately voted “no,” saying the Sheriff didn’t pay her the “courtesy” of visiting her office to pitch the bill, adding that the Sheriff falsely claimed that he tried to set up a meeting with her office staff.

She urged her “Democrats” to “help send a message to my Sheriff back home and vote ‘no’ on this bill.”

“There are two Senators in Duval, not just one,” Davis said.

Yarborough said he “could not speak for the acts of another individual, but we do need to be above board with our communication” in his close.

Ultimately, the bill passed by a 25-12 vote, though Democrats did hold the line.

The bill, which is also sponsored by GOP Rep. Wyman Duggan of Jacksonville in the House, will be heard on Friday’s House Special Order calendar.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • MH/Duuuval

    February 29, 2024 at 9:35 pm

    TK wants to control how the JSO budget is spent once the citizens’ legislature provides the money.

    And, he is averse to transparency and accountability — once the taxpayers have elevated him to the office, they can step back and let him work his magic for 4 years.

    • MH/Duuuval

      March 1, 2024 at 10:09 am

      Its worth adding that both the current and previous Sheriff in Duval don’t meet with groups whose point of view differs from theirs.

      Ditto MC Rutherford, former Sheriff.

Comments are closed.


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