More than half of Pinellas County’s budget goes to support its 2,800-person Sheriff’s department. But in a year of making do with less, Sheriff Jim Coats has been asked to cut $30 million for 2010-2011. Can it be done without a significant hit to public safety? The sheriff steps into the Tiger’s Den to tell us where he is willing to tighten and what needs to stay. As budget planning begins in earnest will he fight to be spared the full force of the budget ax as he has in past years? Or are a smaller force and a more crowded jail inevitable? Curious Tigers may also wish to ask whether there is any way to reduce significant future liabilities for pension benefits and retiree health benefits. Coats has 38 years experience with the Pinellas Sheriff’s office and has been tapped several times by Florida governors to serve as interim sheriff in counties whose sheriff was removed.
Dan Raulerson and I disagree on many things about policy but we always have done so