To The Editor:
Recently the News-Press published an article titled Sheriff Slashes 2011-12 budget.
Mr. Scott did not “slash” the budget. Taking advantage of an opportunity to allow those that no longer wish to work for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office to break ties is not “budget slashing.”
It can devastate an organization by greatly reducing experience levels.
"To me, that's a large number," he said, speaking of the reduction. "It's telling of an agency that crime has fallen while we reduced the budget by $17 million." – said Scott.
The $17 million that Mr. Scott is talking about represents decreases over many years, not just for the 2011-2012 budget, as Mr. Scott would spin it. One should not try to confuse the issue and mislead the citizens of Lee County.
The $3 million legislation triggered decrease is not a result of Mr. Scott working hard to save Lee County money. It is the result of a change in retirement law - nothing more and nothing less. The employees and their families surely do not look at this as a step Mr. Scott took to help streamline the LCSO, increase their pay and make the office more productive.
Mr. Scott’s budget exploded up until fiscal year 2008-2009, costing the taxpayer millions. That is a tragedy. That is an ethical crime.
A more accurate representation of our county’s criminal activity is to understand that according to FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) over 65 percent of Florida’s counties have realized a drop in their crime rate between 2009 and 2010. A drop in the crime rate is not an indication of productive leadership by Mr. Scott.
Our men and woman of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office are still working “reactionary,” not “proactively.” They are working harder for less money and our citizens are no safer. That is reality.
If elected, I will significantly decrease the budget, while increasing proactive service levels and properly rewarding our heroes for their life threatening hard work. The citizens of Lee County deserve no less. Mr. Scott has been unwilling and unable to do what is necessary for Lee County’s citizens and LCSO employees.
Mr. Scott has damaged the Sheriff’s Office. I will fix it. He has misled its citizens. I will tell the truth.
Bushong, a Republican, is a candidate for Sheriff of Lee County. – Ed.