County facing budget shortfall of over $500,000

Published: Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 01:12 PM.

“We don’t have our numbers from the Property Appraiser yet so everything right now is kind of in a gray area,” McDaniel said. “But we are looking at a pretty significant shortfall.”

Commissioners, at least a majority, moved ahead with one proposal for potential savings by bringing probation services back in-house to be operated by staff at the jail.

Yeager argued that it would be a saving to taxpayers. He added that staff, particularly deputy administrator Michael Hammond, who also oversees the Gulf County Jail, told commissioners they could accomplish what a private company has done for 12 years.

Richard Stewart, who heads Florida Probation Services, wondered what savings taxpayers would actually see as his company operates not from property tax dollars, but from the court fees of probationers.

Stewart noted that his company actually operates at a loss in Gulf County.

“Bay County subsidizes this county,” Stewart said. “We do things for your county nobody does.”

He said probation was more than collecting fees and his company operates several programs and courses through the probation office. He said the county would be assuming liability and constitutional minefields that commissioners should be wary of.

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