Lawmakers OK bill giving more budget authority to Jacksonville Sheriff
Image via T.K. Waters.

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The legislation is backed by the Florida Sheriffs Association.

In the wake of the Senate passing legislation affirming the budgetary independence of Jacksonville’s Sheriff, the House followed suit with an 86-23 vote of its own.

The measure, from GOP Sen. Clay Yarborough and GOP Rep. Wyman Duggan, 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.

As was made clear in the Senate when SB 1704 (substituted for the House product) was passed, the bill is effectively a carve-out for Jacksonville’s T.K. Waters, affirming the intention of previous legislation giving Sheriffs inside consolidated governments the same authority as others. The measure affirms Waters’ authority to move funds without the approval of the City Council after his budget (which is nearly $600 million this year) is approved by the legislative body.

The legislation is backed by the Florida Sheriffs Association.

Both the House and Senate sponsors represent Jacksonville, which has a Democratic Mayor and a Republican Sheriff who don’t always align. In the consolidated government, the Sheriff’s budget has a particular provenance and has been a flashpoint in the past.

Locals will remember a 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.”

That gambit didn’t succeed. But given worries about the Deegan administration from the city’s GOP establishment, this bill could be considered to be of a piece with other legislation attempting to curb mayoral powers.

It’s very likely that Gov. Ron DeSantis will enthusiastically support this bill to give an ally more latitude. The Governor preemptively endorsed Waters for Sheriff when he ran in a Special Election to fill an unexpired term back in 2022.

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


3 comments

  • the Truth

    March 6, 2024 at 9:47 am

    we like the Sheriff

    • rick whitaker's

      March 6, 2024 at 1:56 pm

      the truth, YOU like the sheriff, many others, do not. when you said we, you lied.

      • the Truth

        March 6, 2024 at 4:14 pm

        how about this, White people and those who. obey the law, like the Sheriff, I guess you do not follow the law, lol

Comments are closed.


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