Morgan Questions Commission’s Planned ‘Shade’ Meeting Over Budget Appeal

October 22, 2017

The Escambia County Commission plans to hold a shade meeting Monday to discuss Sheriff David Morgan’s budget appeal to the governor, but Morgan is calling for that meeting to be held in the sunshine.

The BOCC will hold the private meeting with its attorneys Monday morning at 9:00 to discuss the pending appeal, according to a public notice.

“Florida has a long-standing policy mandating that meetings to discuss public business be conducted in the open,” Morgan said in a letter Saturday to Escambia County Commission Chairman Doug Underhill. “The law governing such meetings (Chapter 286 of the Florida Statutes) allows for closed Board meetings in only very limited circumstances — when there is pending “litigation” and when the subject matter of the meeting is confined to settlement negotiations or strategy sessions related to litigation expenditures.

“My understanding is that the subject matter of Monday’s planned meeting is the drafting of the reply to my budget petition. I am not aware of any settlement negotiations underway.”

Morgan also wrote, “The debate about replying to my appeal is not limited to “litigation” or “settlement” strategies. In question are the very type of public policy issues that by law must be addressed and debated in public, in the light of day. I was given very short shrift in this year’s budget debate. I find it unconscionable, and perhaps a violation of the Florida’s Sunshine Laws and policy, to close this meeting from public scrutiny when the subject of the debate is the EBOCC reply to my appeal.

“We have attempted to get straight answers about the budget from EBOCC and its staff. We have records requests that have yet to be answered, and have not been given straightforward answers to our questions. When we asked the County Administrator for clarification of budget issues, we were told that the County would not ‘do the math’ for the Sheriff. This does not give me confidence that the County is being forthcoming about the Escambia County Budget. Closing this meeting will further advance the notion that there is something about the EBOCC budget that EBOCC does not want the public to know.

“I call upon EBOCC to squarely and frankly discuss these issues in the light of day in public. You may want to consider additional legal guidance before closing the meeting. If you do hold the closed meeting as planned, in my opinion it is not in the best interests of our constituents, nor will it foster our working relationship as we strive to achieve a budget resolution.”

All county employees received a pay raise under a budget approved in late September by the Escambia County Commission — including Sheriff’s deputies — but Sheriff David Morgan said then that he still planned appeal his budget to Scott. The budget included $3.7 million to provide a 3 percent across the board raise for all permanent employees, including those at the Sheriff’s Office.

The budget approval cane at the end of a long summer in which Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan fought for pay raises and changes in the pay structure in his department in order to retain deputies. Morgan said the raises did nothing to stop pay “compression”.


31 Responses to “Morgan Questions Commission’s Planned ‘Shade’ Meeting Over Budget Appeal”

  1. resident on October 25th, 2017 1:08 pm

    well at least we know who underhand sides with now.

  2. Chris on October 25th, 2017 9:08 am

    This is the 2017 Sunshine law Manual. It can be downloaded so people will be truly informed of the law process.$file/2017+Sunshine+Law+Manual.pdf

  3. Straight Shooter on October 24th, 2017 7:49 am

    Let me say First, LEO’s have a tough job and should be commended for wanting to choose that profession.
    You people need to stop drinking Morgan’s Kool-Aid. Do your homework before you spout off about how much Leo’s make. Starting pay is competitive with local counties. Starting pay is JUST That. They don’t stay at that rate long. Every Leo hired knows what his pay will be and he chooses that job. The majority of Leo’s love what they do.
    There are a lot of benefits to gov workers get to compensate for lower wages than private sector jobs. Most will retire with huge sums of money in retirement that most of us will never have. I say well deserved but there again that is another thing that made up for lower pay.
    No disrespect to Leo’s meant. Morgan is pouring Kool-Aid out and the public is drinking it up.

  4. northofI10 on October 24th, 2017 6:25 am

    Patti, your observation is right on point. Money may a contributing factor in the decision for leaving but there are far more issues from within the department that make the decision easier. It starts at the top, those that surround the sheriff and they way they do business. There are a lot of comments about ‘good ole boy network’ and it has and will always be a problem with only the names changing under different administrations. There have been no comments against the deputies deserving more pay so the community at large supports this and yet the administration has become more top heavy and those working there and the community certainly have the right to question the budget issues without being painted as not supporting higher salaries for the deputies that are actually out there protecting and serving.

  5. Former Resident on October 23rd, 2017 10:30 pm

    To Steve

    Thank you for your observations. I was born in and lived in Pensacola for 35 years and long to retire there someday. Hopefully the town can get a few things straight. My family member is not afraid of hard work and did not leave the department for that reason. I can see how you would assume that without knowing the facts. Not sure what you mean about longing for the good old boy system. None of the recent office holders of that department have been impressive and I’ve personally known more than one. The good old boy system has been the problem in the county for years. Soccer fields…money hidden in a collard green pot in someone’s freezer…mysterious plane crashes…you know the rest of the bizarre stories. It’s unfortunate a self-aggrandizing individual has sullied a respectable profession and is willing to take more from tax payers rather than look for ways to be more efficient and take care of the needs of his department. In my current profession, I’m responsible for a $35 million annual operating budget and owe it to consumers who pay for our services to be a responsible steward. Any public servant should do the same. Hopefully the citizens of what is a fantastic community make a change when given the chance.

  6. Morgan supporter: on October 23rd, 2017 2:22 pm

    I support Sheriff Morgan.

    I feel our Deputies are grossly underpaid and I would not go out and put my life on the like for pennies!

    Maybe the solution would be to take the extra money needed to upgrade our Sheriffs Department from the salaries of the County Commissioners!

    At least that would give the taxpayers some return on their investment for the taxes that we pay and be beneficial to the whole county!

    The bottom line is that the county needs the Sheriff’s Department, and the Sheriff’s Department does much more good for the county than the Commissioners do!!!!

    The Commissioners have additional incomes on top of their salaries – our Deputies do not have this advantage.

  7. Steve l. Harris on October 23rd, 2017 12:48 pm

    To former resident:

    I disagree with you and everything you’ve said. I’ve been here for almost 20 years and the only thing dysfunctional is anyone who misses the “good old boy system”. Your “kin” may have run from here because they had to work and for a living and not able to buy their way through a promotion like the former Sheriff.

  8. Fishing fool on October 23rd, 2017 6:36 am

    Businesses that give employees raises do so by charging more for goods and services. The government has to raises taxes for revenue. Now imagine the uproar from the same who will spend money on lotto,cigarettes, fair,etc. But a 1 cent gas tax or $10 property tax would destroy their budget. Everyone feels underpaid.I want a new boat but the wife says we cant afford it. Maybe I need to call her mama and tell on her. If it works for Morgan.

  9. Tabby on October 23rd, 2017 5:10 am

    @Esc Leo–I support you. I do not support Thelbert. Get rid of 1 of the Chiefs, Facebook runners, or A.S. who makes about 3 times a starting deputies salary just to make Thelbert look good. And tell her to easy up on the make up while your at it. However, I agree with you. Your about $15-18k from where you should be.

  10. David Huie Green on October 22nd, 2017 11:24 pm

    “we need a pay scale to reward people who work here for years and gain valuable experience and take on additional responsibility. Just like any other civilian company.”

    Probably, but it is NOT a civilian company.
    It is a government entity.
    The basis for existence is different.
    It does not produce more law enforcement over time.
    It does not risk bankruptcy.

    Pay for a given job is spelled out:

    Continuous Service Time Longevity extra pay, Merit pay increases …which shall not exceed ten percent (10%) within one fiscal year or the maximum of the pay grade.

    Annual leave:
    Less than 5 years 8 hours per month (12 days/year)
    5 years but less than 10 years 10 hours per month (120 hrs = 15 days/year)
    10 years but less than 15 years 12 hours per month
    15 years but less than 20 years 14 hours per month
    20 years but less than 25 years 16 hours per month (24 days/year)
    25 years or more 18 hours per month

    The Escambia County Employee & Family Health Care Center provides health care solutions for all County employees, retirees and their families. The Employee Health Care Center provides a range of health and wellness services such as treatment for illness, health screenings, wellness education programs and much more.

    Active employees may utilize the Health Care Center for free, dependants free or cheap.

    It may add up, especially with a growing family.

    “Civilian” jobs do not have these guarantees. Government work is different (which is why it attracts some, repels others).

    David for happy workers

  11. patti on October 22nd, 2017 11:16 pm

    I’m always amazed that folks are so critical! Until one has walked in his or her shoes, one needs to keep ugly comments to their self. I’ve always thought that our law enforcement is underpaid. Have any of you ever questioned how much those who are county commissioners make. They have a safe job. Do you wonder how you would feel about your loved one being an officer – whose job is to protect you, or a military personnel who serves you was killed in doing his or her job! Hey, folks you need to think about all the elements of their job. Our county is one of the lowest income in the state. It’s wonderful that Navy Federal is here because they pay lots more to their employees, give them raises as that employee excels in his or her job. It’s a SHAME that our law enforcement isn’t given the recognition he or she deserves in pay raises.

  12. Lady on October 22nd, 2017 10:58 pm

    I support the Sherriff asking for more money to pay his deputies. The County Commissioners are not a working or knowledgeable group we now have. All they study is putting the money where it is not needed. The North end of the County needs to be put in Alabama and then we would not have to pay high property taxes and would have the rest of Alabama children in our school system. We are allowing anyone that wants to come to Florida schools come anyway to keep from paying tuition at the private school. They have closed TWO schools just across the Alabama line because the children are now being brought to Fl line for Fl bus pick up or busses from Alabama are bringing them to Florida schools. Now if the deputies keep resigning because the pay is so low we will not have any of that at all up our way. We do not have police escorts for funerals now. Remember Commissioners there comes a time for election and you cannot even build the new jail but you can provide Bus service to beach. We, the people, demand a published budget from you all. I hope we keep David Morgan because God help us on the next one.

  13. Just me on October 22nd, 2017 9:20 pm

    I guess if I was a jerk, I would also blame anything I could on anybody else or any thing except myself.

  14. old man on October 22nd, 2017 8:38 pm

    suggestion do away with the beach run around take that money and the 4cent per gallon going to E CAT and spend it where all citizens benifit from it the sheriff dept serves everyone i dont go to the beach nor do i ride the bus but i do go to town and feel safe because of law enforcement

  15. Time For Change on October 22nd, 2017 8:29 pm

    Ask any Deputy how they feel about the Sheriff after his failed attempt at negotiations with the State Fair? They lost their Christmas money to the FWC due to poor negotiations. He is sticking it to his own deputies now to prove his point. What happened to the raises he budgeted for in his first 2 terms?

  16. Former Resident on October 22nd, 2017 6:20 pm

    Once again Sheriff Arrogant thinks he knows better than anyone else in the county. To say that an across the board raise of 3% worsens pay compression is either dishonest or ignorant. Assume one person is making an annual salary of $100 and the other is making $50 annually. The first person is making twice the second. Now give each a 3% raise and the new salaries are $103 and $51.50. The first person is still making twice as much as the second. Compression has not worsened, the salaries are still at the same relativity.

    Just listen to this clown for five minutes and the obvious narcissist is unfit to lead any department. One of my relatives worked for the sheriff for a period of time. She could not leave that environment fast enough. Speak to anyone that is or has worked for that department and, if they are honest, they will give a first hand account of the dysfunction this man has caused.

  17. Esc co leo on October 22nd, 2017 6:17 pm

    @ bubba Ray

    First, hillsborough, orange etc are not more dangerous than here. As you know, escambia is consistently among the highest crime rates in the state.

    Second, it is true that pay has always been low, but it has gotten excessively bad. In most jobs (gulf power, navy federal, etc) you move up in pay as time goes by. I’ve been here over ten years, been promoted and am only making $45,000 vs. making $35,000 when I started. That is terrible. A supervisor at an agency with over ten years experience making barely 25% over starting salary? How is that something for new people to work towards? By the time you have ten years in, younhave a family and a house and such. You can’t have a family and live decent on $45,000. Not to mention the job we do deserves a little more than just being able to scrape by.

    Our starting pay of $35,000 isn’t bad. But we need a pay scale to reward people who work here for years and gain valuable experience and take on additional responsibility. Just like any other civilian company.

  18. Mary Lou on October 22nd, 2017 5:57 pm

    Thank you Bubba Ray for writing what I’m thinking!

  19. jk on October 22nd, 2017 3:11 pm

    Ok morgan has over spent and fiscally mismanaged his budget. He has repeatedly skewed facts as to starting pay and things he will cut out if commissioners don’t pay up. All scare tactics to the uninformed citizens of Escambia county.

    Our commissioners know if morgan gets what he wants it requires the tax paying citizens to pony up more. I support law enforcement , I’m one , but you must know the additional homestead exemption in causing shortfalls in every county.

    But you don’t tell morgan no or he throws a fit. What’s he worried about anyway his crony underhill will tell everything said in the meeting. Wake up Escambia and get informed of the facts not morgans slanted comments trying to scare you. Proud of Commissioner Barry fort standing up for his constituents

  20. Let the Sunshine in on October 22nd, 2017 2:57 pm

    I doubt Morgan published this statement if he isn’t fully prepared to follow through with having a sunshine law violation investigated by SAO.

    Whether it is appropriate, right or wrong– He doesn’t seem to be inclined toward empty threats now does he?

  21. retired on October 22nd, 2017 1:41 pm

    Some day Morgan is going to realize that this is a civilian government with shallow pockets, NOT a the federal government with DEEEEEEEEEP pockets. Like the Air Force had.

  22. db on October 22nd, 2017 10:53 am

    I don’t think they should get more $. People say they are on the low end of the scale, well genuis, so is Escambia county. Keep bumping the cops pay beyond what normal people get is ridiculous, most of us have not have a raise in years. Go cry a river some where else. This sheriff want to be funded like the LAPD. Say NO to the raises. We have enough fiscal issues. If the cops don”t like the pay, find another job…like the rest of us would.

  23. Bubba Ray on October 22nd, 2017 9:57 am

    I’m sick of the false narrative of “our deputies are underpaid.” You can’t compare the wages in Escambia to areas such as Duval, Dade, Hillsboro, Orange, Pinellas, etc. Those are far larger and far more dangerous areas of the state. The pay for deputies in Escambia County has never been great, but we never had the mass exodus have today. We lose deputies because they are sick of working for a glory whore who doesn’t have the first clue what he’s doing. His admin staff is as bloated as his ego.

    He claims to be a conservative republican but he spends money like a drunk sailor in the Philippines. Throwing away millions to be able to sip wine and hob knob in his General’s uniform. He’s a spoiled child and a disgrace to Escambia County. Hope his Obama-like Administration is over sooner rather than later.

  24. Sage2 on October 22nd, 2017 9:51 am

    With possibly one exception, our Escambia County Commissioners are so caught up with themselves and advancement, they can’t see the need to fund the ECSO in the proper financial manner. Those responding prior to this have a handle on what is important…enforcement, protection, crime prevention and incarceration for those that break the law!

  25. Patti Neal on October 22nd, 2017 9:26 am

    Sheriff Morgan is trying to use bully tactics to get his way. We never had issues under previous Sheriffs maintaining good deputies. I personally know several members of the ECSO and unanimously they all tell me that pay is not the reason deputies are leaving.

  26. on October 22nd, 2017 9:13 am

    Good for Sheriff Morgan! About time someone questioned the public budget controlled by the commissioners.

  27. JJ on October 22nd, 2017 9:12 am

    Morgan has far too many supervisors with huge salaries. He has created civilian positions, like David Craig, as his video guy. He then hired a staff of videographers that follow him around and “document” his career.

    People, the deputies can be paid more, if Morgan would quit playing King and act like a grown man, instead of an egotistical loon. He’s doing the very same thing that he has accused the prior Sheriff of doing; over-staffing and over paying the top dogs!

    Can’t believe this guy is our Sheriff :(

  28. Rick on October 22nd, 2017 6:54 am

    Come on BOC , fund the law enforcement that protects the people of this county like they should be paid. Having the lifetime career deputies that stay for a lifetime career is important when it comes to dealibg with crime. They become familiar with who where and what is happening and it makes it easier to put the criminals away whereas if you keep a high turnover then its harder to become familiar with the happenings of the criminals and what is going on. As a county that depends on tourism to a certain extent , we need to get this situation handled asap. That tourism will go to either santa rosa or gulf shores if the county dont realize this is important for fighting crime. Who wants to visit a place where they have a higher chance of getting robbed, personal property getting stole, and drug dealers on the street corner everywhere.

  29. Adam Venitari on October 22nd, 2017 6:10 am

    I don’t understand how Commissioner Grover Robinson can dedicate the next 10 years of his allotted special funding to traffic circles when he won’t be a County Commissioner for the next 10 years. Isn’t there a law prohibiting that? Our other elected officials, like the Sheriff for example, is prohibited from entering into any contract that extends beyond his term limits. So when these traffic circles fail, the next Commissioner won’t have any special funding to fix it and the rest of the county is stuck paying the bill.

  30. Citizen on October 22nd, 2017 3:30 am

    Here is the law for the budget process. I would think it should be in the Sunshine also. But it “served” and in the judicial process. Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    Life Lesson, don’t P. Off the Police. They win usually.

  31. D.S. on October 22nd, 2017 2:35 am

    Adequate pay for our law enforcement offices should be a top priority. I consider law enforcement to be a primary function that our county government provides to the community. As a lifelong constituent of Escambia County, I am thankful for the service of our first responders, who daily protect and preserve the fundamental rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
    I find it very disturbing that Escambia County law enforcement officers’ salaries are on the low end of the spectrum when compared to other communities.
    Please do what is right for the citizens of our county and fund the Sheriff Office budget to correct this deficiency.

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