Sheriff Frank McKeithen Speaks Out About Budget Cuts

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Panama City- Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen was not happy about county commissioners cutting more than a million dollars from his upcoming budget.

"I didn't agree with that. Still don't agree with it," said McKeithen.

McKeithen originally requested a $350,000 increase to offset a rise in employee healthcare insurance costs. Not only did commissioners reject that request, they also cut his department more than $750,000. They blamed the blanket 3.5% budget cuts in large part on falling property taxes.

"Advalorem I understand that., but I also understand there are certain priorities and my priorities are obviously different than other peoples'," said McKeithen.

Now to make ends meet, McKeithen said he plans to shut down two substations in Panama City Beach and consolidate Southport's substation. He said he's also forced to scale back operations at the county jail, which McKeithen said is especially difficult since his office took it over in 2008.

"That was just absolutely deplorable, and we've actually turned it into a positive for the community," said McKeithen.

McKeithen said the department will also lose around 30 jobs, mostly through retirements and attrition.

"To keep these guys going and motivated and assuring them that things are going to be ok is the difficult part," said McKeithen.

But he promised to do the best with that he has left.

"We will continue to be the best sheriff's office in the state of Florida, and probably the most underfunded," said McKeithen.

McKeithen can appeal to the state for additional funding, but it doesn't appear he's planning to do that.

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