View Full Version : Sally port mix-up adds almost $6 million to sheriff's budget

10-22-2007, 02:29 PM
Sally port mix-up adds almost $6 million to sheriff's budget

Chief Financial Planning Officer Jeffrey Seward revealed to the Sarasota County Commission Friday that an additional $5.7 million was required to augment the Fiscal Year 2008 Sheriff's Office budget to finance a sally port.

SARASOTA -- Just when the Sarasota County Commission thought it was finished haggling with Sheriff William Balkwill to cut his swollen $88 million budget for fiscal year 2008, the commissioners learned to their chagrin Friday that an additional $5.7 million was now needed to cover construction of a sally port at the Sarasota city jail.

"Excuse me?" blinked County Commission Chairwoman Nora Patterson, when told by Chief Financial Planning Officer Jeffrey Seward of the accounting glitch. "That's over and above his budget?"

"Yes," was Seward's uncomfortable reply.

"You mean $5.7 million? That we didn't discuss at the budget meetings?" Patterson demanded.

Deputy County Administrator David Bullock came to Seward's rescue.

"What happened was the sally port was in the 2007 budget and we talked about it," Bullock said. "We expected it to begin construction (in fiscal year 2007), but it couldn't begin construction. It's a difficult project to do."

Bullock added the project was now ready to go forward, but due to an accounting miscue, which came at the close of fiscal year 2007 on Sept. 30, that $5.7 million did not get carried over into the 2008 budget.

"Apparently, we missed (the deadline) by three weeks," Bullock said.

A sally port is a secure area where prisoners are transported to and from the jail. A new one has been needed in Sarasota for quite some time, Bullock said afterward. A three-week delay in awarding the bid for its construction forced the allocation of its funding to come from somewhere else.

"We'll (ultimately) get it from our reserve funds," Bullock said. "It's not a huge deal."

Bullock added the matter will appear as a public hearing item on a County Commission agenda for approval within the next few weeks. The commissioners will then adopt a resolution calling for the issuance of a loan for the project, payable over the next five years.

"In the whole context of the budget, the process would have been invisible had we just included it in one more year of the capital improvement plan," Bullock said. "This has been in our CIP over the last three or four years. Every year we just carry it forward. This year, for whatever reason, they didn't get it rewarded by the end of the year."

You can e-mail Steven J. Smith at ssmith@sun-herald.com.


Staff Writer