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Flagler Beach Cool To Contributing Money, Palm Coast-Style, For Schools’ Resource Deputies

| May 14, 2018

Flagler Beach Commissioner Eric Colley, center, did not get the support he was hoping for when he proposed looking into contributing money to the school district's school resource deputies' budget. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler Beach Commissioner Eric Colley, center, did not get the support he was hoping for when he proposed looking into contributing money to the school district’s school resource deputies’ budget. (© FlaglerLive)

When the Flagler Beach Commission last met, Commissioner Eric Cooley proposed that the city do what Palm Coast does to help pay for school resource deputies in schools: add a monetary appropriation of its own, over and above what the city contributes through county taxes.

Fellow commissioners, however, responded with the equivalent of a “yes, but,” with their qualifiers overwhelming their intimations of support. The city will not entertain the idea in the next few weeks but may at most consider it during budget time in late spring and summer, when it has invited a school official to pitch the idea.

That won’t help the school district as it plans and negotiates for deputies with the sheriff, a p[lan that must be finalized this month.

Palm Coast contributes about $100,000 a year toward school resource deputies in addition to what the school board and the sheriff pay. That’s the equivalent of a full-time school deputy, benefits and equipment included. The school district and the sheriff are finding themselves struggling somewhat to meet a new state requirement that there be at least one cop in every school. The sheriff’s plan for a total of 13 school deputies, including two supervisors (a net increase of seven deputies), will cost $1.8 million, split between the board and the sheriff, but the school board faces a shortfall of over $80,000.

The Palm Coast contribution takes care of one of those 13 deputies. But it leaves the school board still short. Sheriff Rick Staly said he’d be willing to further close the gap by working on controlling overtime costs.

With the difference being in the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands, an additional contribution, however modest, from Flagler Beach or Bunnell governments might have helped further close the gap. That’s where Colley was proposing at last Thursday’s commission meeting.

“There’s no particular amount,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s any appetite with this board to consider anything like that, I don’t know if the money is there or how much you’re all interested in doing. But I wanted to table it. I thought it was a good-faith move for Palm Coast to do that. It helps, because the way I figure, we can either contribute on the front side or the back side in the form of taxes. It’ll come from us no matter what.”

City Manager Larry Newsom said School Board attorney Kristy Gavin called him about the idea. “I’ll be happy to invite you during our budget, because it’s going to be a budgetary impact,” Newsom said he told Gavin. “I said I guess in a political way, well, you know we’re always looking for ways to be partners, but we’ve got to figure out what’s affordable and what’s not.” He also discussed the school board’s half-cent sales tax, or if the county was maximizing its gas tax or local option sales tax, which could pay for cop cars, for instance. (The school board’s sales tax supplement is earmarked strictly for technology.)

There was also discussion of involving one of Flagler Beach’s officers—an idea Staly is not keen on because he doesn’t not want his command structure fragmented by different types of policing authorities in the schools. Earlier this spring he was even pushing to be rid of the Palm Coast contract for the supplemental resource officer, but was dissuaded when Palm Coast council members strongly objected.

“I really don’t want to engage in that,” Newsom said. “I prefer we talk about all this during our budget cycle, which is slowly approaching, they said OK.”

Commissioner Jane Mealy said when Flagler Beach asked for help with its beach, it got $2,000 from Bunnell, “and that’s all.” She added: “It’s not that I’m not interested in child safety, but I don’t think—my initial thought is I would not want to consider that.” Commissioner Marshall Shupe agreed, citing the school board’s “discretionary fund” as the place to look.

“My understanding is, it’s sort of like a slush fund, and I know that’s probably the wrong terminology,” Marshall said, “however, I think it’s significant, and I don’t know what the total would be.” Commission Chairman Rick Belhumeur spoke of the drop in the school board’s tax rate last year, suggesting it will go back up this year.

The commissioners’ comments reflected the degree to which the school board’s budget is misunderstood, even by local officials: there is no such thing approaching a “slush fund,” and what “discretionary” money is in the district’s revenue is part of its operating expenses. The local board doesn’t set the tax rate: it’s set in Tallahassee and in effect imposed on local boards, who merely go through the motions of formally adopting the tax rates. Only local sales tax or property tax supplements are entirely within the local board’s discretion. There is no property tax supplement in effect currently: voters rejected it a few years ago—precisely when it was sold, in part, to pay for extra cops in schools.

“I think the delta is too big for a small city like us to even try to” contribute, Commissioner Kim Carney said, predicting that the school board will work it out. She said she was not “opposed to working out an assignment with a couple of police officers but I think it’s a massive difference.”

The Bunnell City Commission has not discussed the idea. 

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10 Responses for “Flagler Beach Cool To Contributing Money, Palm Coast-Style, For Schools’ Resource Deputies”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Flagler Beach residents are already paying for school resource officers when they pay their property tax and monies go into the county’s general fund….paying again would be double taxation. The county needs to be paying the expense from what has already been collected. Sheriff Staly needs to be creative and tighten his belt to pay this extra revenue from the monies he already has been given. He has too many high paying paying positions and wastes too much money on car wraps, advertising promoting his image and name, BMW motorcycles, Mustang police cars etc. etc. This is a Sheriff that is milking the heck out of us tax payers like there is no limit.

  2. Rick Belhumeur says:

    How more unfair a comparison can be made? Palm Coast has 1600% more residents than Flagler Beach. That is not a typo… get your calculators out. Palm Coast has over 85,000 residents. Flagler Beach has 5,000 or 5.88% the population of Palm Coast. If Flagler Beach were to contribute the same percentage, it would amount to $5,888 or approximately 5.8% the cost of one deputy falling way short of the $80,000 needed.

  3. Concerned says:

    My city, Flagler Beach, is a total embarrassment. They need to come together and contribute whatever it takes to protect the children of this county. Kids from this city go to schools in this county too.

    The option is clear when these people come up for re-election.

  4. Sherry says:

    When the Republican Florida governor and legislature vote in strict gun safety regulations, I’ll be quite happy to pay higher taxes for armed security guards at our schools.

    Oh No. . . don’t finally agree, that if that happened, the security guards would NOT be needed!

  5. Brian says:

    @ Sherry – pretend for a moment that you are in charge of everything; the “supreme ruler”, if you will. What “strict gun safety regulations” would you enact? Thank you.

  6. r&r says:

    There you go AGAIN throwing politics in as the cause of people shooting up our schools. Just hire some retired Marines for security and when the word get’s out nobody is going to f— with our schools.

  7. Sherry says:

    Our domestic arms race. . . including weapons of mass destruction. . . “IS” a political issue, and DOES contribute to the cause of the recent rise in school shootings and the MURDER of innocent children!!!

    Automatic and semi-automatic weapons are use for only one thing and that is the taking of “human” life!

    Since I don’t suffer fools gladly, my time is too precious to comment further.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Things like this should not be implemented by knee jerk decisions. If the money isn’t already there then it should not be mandatory and expenses of this magnitude need to go on the ballot. The number of schools that have had school shootings is minimal and shootings can occur anywhere. It makes no difference if it is a child or an adult killed, a life is a life. Rather than spending millions and millions of dollars arming officers in the schools how about provide some mental health help to those who need it! There has to be a better way. Implementing security systems can do more than the presence of an office…..with hundreds of students in a school a resource officer is like a speck of dust in the crowd. If teachers have the option of being armed what are resource officers needed for? We have already witnessed a police officer running and hiding….it will happen again and what is likely to happen too is innocent people are going to be shot because there are going to be so many people in schools armed.

  9. Brian Smith says:

    Lets just arm the kids and be done with it…

  10. capt says:

    “” provide some mental health help to those who need it!” and there lies the problem. Who will determine who needs mental help, schools, police, doctor, parents well first the person has to exhibit some type of mental issues. The people I fought in Iraq and Afghanistan did not appear to be mental unless one could say both countries are mental cases. Waiting to prove a person is mental could take a while. Stopping a shooter before he gets into a school is real time, not some distant idea or what if. Like I noted a while ago in a post, if something would have occurred in our schools, people would be all over getting the police in there to protect our children like they did in Ocala. Here we have people complaining about spending some money to protect our kids, well I value my children and whatever it takes to protect them, I’m all for it.

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