Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, County Commissioners resolve dispute

Commissioners voted to grant the Sheriff his requested budget. This comes after it was originally denied through the former commissioners.
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 10:38 PM CST
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JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and County Commissioners are saving themselves a trip to Tallahassee.

“We were fortunate the new Board saw fit to give it to us because it’s to benefit the citizens of Jackson County,” said Jackson County Sheriff Donnie Edenfield.

The JCSO was originally denied an estimated $280,000 it requested for car fuel and vehicle maintenance.

So, Edenfield filed an appeal to the Governor’s Office last month.

However, two new commissioners who were sworn in at last week’s meeting helped turn things around.

“It just felt like it would make a lot better sense for us to work together with the Sheriff to try to work through this on a compromise solution,” Paul Donofro, chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, said.

Commissioners said they had a lot to juggle this year. “We’ve had an extremely challenging budget year with the expenditures way over the amount of revenue we’re bringing in,” Donofro said.

However, the Board wasn’t wild about going to Tallahassee to address the dispute. “The look of having to go to the governor’s office to argue an appeal is never a good look for a county,” Donofro said.

Edenfield also said it’s better to receive the funding all at once instead of having to continually ask for it. “If I have to go back every three months and ask for gas money, to the common person, that makes them think I don’t know how to balance my budget.”

JCSO officials said safety is their number one priority.

“Our goal here is to provide the citizens of this County the best service possible, and part of that is when you call 911, you want someone there quickly,” Edenfield said.

That’s something commissioners took into consideration when they voted 4-to-1 in favor of it.

Jackson County Commissioner Jim Peacock is the one board member who voted against it. He provided a written statement to NewsChannel 7 that reads, “Jackson County has a limited amount of incoming revenue. It is the responsibility of the Board to manage that revenue wisely. Balancing the budget means allocating our resources equally across the County contingent on needs. Providing reliable law enforcement to the citizens of Jackson is a high priority. In the same breath, providing reliable Fire Rescue, safely navigable roads, and other County services are also priorities. I believe that the original budget we balanced does just that. This year, the Sheriff asked for a historically high budget, that I do not believe we have the means to fairly accommodate in comparison to other services. My vote reflects that perspective. Previously, if the JCSO had financial needs that arise outside of the budget allocated by the Board, they came to the Board and we worked to meet those needs the best we could. A large concern of the Sheriff has been fuel prices. I can promise that the Board would never want the Sheriff’s Office to have to park their vehicles. I believe that we could have found a better compromise. However, moving forward, the Board’s relationship with the Sheriff remains united under one goal; providing a reliable service and safe communities for the citizens of Jackson County.”