Both Candidates for District 2 Call for Sheriff to Open his Books

TAB has been vocal about the lack of transparency in the PBSO budget. Every year, the Sheriff delivers to county staff, the bare minimum of information specifically required by statute. This is not enough detail to understand where the money is spent, rather it is just the top line amounts for the main areas of Law Enforcement, Corrections, and Court Services. We have been stressing to the Commissioners that they have the right under statute (some would say the responsibility) to demand a full accounting of both the historical and projected spending detail.

District 2 candidate Sherry Lee has been a TAB supporter and a party to our call for PBSO transparency. Her opponent, School Board member Paulette Burdick, has now joined the call for opening the Sheriff’s books. From a Palm Beach Post article by Jennifer Sorentrue yesterday:

Burdick also wants commissioners to force Sheriff Ric Bradshaw to explain his budget to the public every year. Bradshaw’s spending plan makes up the largest portion of the county’s operations budget.

“I believe the sheriff should present his budget line item by line item at an evening meeting.” Burdick said. “The public doesn’t see it or hear it.”

The sheriff could do more to cut overtime and cap salaries and perks, Burdick added.

Lee also criticized Bradshaw, for what she called a “lack of transparency” in discussing the office’s budget. The sheriff should look at cutting civilian employees, as oppposed to deputies, she said.”

For the full article, CLICK HERE.

TAB Request for PBSO Budget Detail

As many are aware, we submitted a records request to PBSO in July for line item budget detail. As of 10/15, this request had not been filled (but is now -see below). We have begun a dialog with budget manager Kathryn Cochrane, in conjunction with COO George Forman who offered his assistance after the 9/28 budget meeting. Our request to Ms. Cochrane was for “bureau level detail for the years 2003 to the present”, so we can do an analysis of PBSO to the same level as we have done for the county.

Update: Today (10/18), we received the information request. Consisting of 9 pages, one each for the years 2003 through 2011 budget years, it contains more detail than we have seen before, with line items for about 50 appropriations categories, split into the 3 main functional groups of Law Enforcement, Corrections, and Court Services. It does not contain the department level detail that we will need to analyse the trends, but it is a start. We are learning about how PBSO works internally and will try to be more specific in framing our next request. Our goal is to get to the point where the information that is readily available online for the other county departments does not require the assistance of the open records laws to obtain from PBSO. We do appreciate that (after first being denied an electronic form of the document) we were at last able to get central records to send us the 9 page pdf file in an email.