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$250,000 for Flagler Jail Planning Lands On List of 84 Florida Tax Watch “Turkeys”

| April 14, 2012

Florida Tax Watch has a few of those in their sights. (Eric Wittman)

Lawmakers doled out the largest number of budget “turkeys” since 2007 in the spending plan for the coming fiscal year, Florida TaxWatch said, even as the amount of money dedicated to the pet projects declined slightly from the current budget.

One of the items on the list–the only one from Flagler County–is a $250,000 state grant from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to help plan for new construction at the jail, or constructing an entirely new jail. Florida Tax Watch considers the money inappropriate, because that sort of project is “not usually funded by state.”

Flagler’s proposed expansion of the jail (or construction of a new jail) is at the heart of the county’s campaign for an extension of the half-cent sales tax that’s been on the books since 1990, and that expires this year. Palm Coast, which shares in the revenue from the sales tax, has been resisting the extension because it’s opposed to the county’s sharing formula, and because it wants the county to take ownership of its own taxing responsibilities. The FDLE grant is relatively small compared to the cost of a new jail.

Florida Tax Watch’s annual “Turkey Watch,” released Friday, identified 159 items in the state budget that TaxWatch said were inserted late in the process or seemed aimed at benefiting special interests. The total spending on the items came to $171 million. (See the list below.)

The organization said it was not recommending that Gov. Rick Scott veto 16 economic development projects totaling $21.3 million, instead urging “further review” of those items.

The 159 turkeys is the highest number since 2007, when lawmakers in better budget times tacked 505 of the projects onto the spending plan. Those projects would have cost $256 million had then-Gov. Charlie Crist not cut more than half of them.

Aside from the $203 million lawmakers approved last year, the $171 million this year would also be the highest since 2007. Analysts with TaxWatch attributed the increase in projects but the drop in dollars to a lack of large-scale construction proposals in the approximately $70 billion plan.

“There were a lot more kind of the traditional hometown member projects,” said Kurt Wenner, vice president of tax research for TaxWatch and leader of the turkey project.

About 84 of the projects were inserted during House-Senate negotiations to hammer out a final version of the spending plan — a relatively high number, Wenner said. Adding a project in the final stages of the budget process, when it gets less discussion, is a red flag for turkey hunters.

TaxWatch President Dominic Calabro said the organization understood the impulse among lawmakers to make sure that their local area gets its fair share of the budget.

“But all too often we find that the parochial nature of that institution — it’s important to have it tempered, have it tempered with statesman-like conduct,” he said.

One item that was not in the turkey report was a proposal to accelerate the independence of the University of South Florida’s Lakeland campus. The new Florida Polytechnic University was a pet project of Senate Budget Chairman JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, who has crusaded to make the campus its own institution.

Wenner said that the project was discussed at great length during the legislative session, avoiding the accusations of secrecy that often accompany turkeys. And he pointed out that the Legislature approved a bill as part of the budget process that would create the university.

At the same time, Calabro said, TaxWatch was hesitant about the idea.

“We just don’t generally like to add more universities,” he said.

–News Service of Florida and FlaglerLive

Download Florida Tax Watch’s 2012 Turkeys

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8 Responses for “$250,000 for Flagler Jail Planning Lands On List of 84 Florida Tax Watch “Turkeys””

  1. NortonSmitty says:

    Ohh my! What a surprise! The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has allotted spending $250,000 dollars of our tax money just to STUDY whether we need to spend tens of millions to expand the existing jail or Hundreds of millions to build a whole new one. Boy, I wonder which one they will choose? Will they just put in the tip or will they go for what’s become the normal full Monty and break it off when their done like they did with the $120 Million Government Center? And be sure to let us know just how the Police and Jail Guards unions come down on this important issue.

    At a time when 1/4 Million$ would allow every library in the county to recover from the starvation budgets of the last two decades with enough left over to fully fund the essential services of all our food banks, this already spent money is a fucking obscenity to the citizens of this county. And it is happening every day in every county, city and town across this entire country.

    Flaglerlive, if you have the data available, tell us what fine consulting corporation was hired to give us their Solomon like wisdom worth this great amount of our money. Tell us why it is worth A QUARTER OF A MILLION of our frigging tax dollars to read the tea leaves, check the amount of brown on the current crop of woolly caterpillars and put his figure in the wind to tell us how many of our Flagler citizens will need to be put behind bars in the future, seeing as how we’re just booming with new housing these days. And then look up the managers and stockholders of this fine slice of our free enterprise system and tell us how they are related to the Bush family and tied to the right wing Cubans from Miami and the current Tallahassee Mafia. If their is no connection to any of these three fine entities, I will eat my computer and go down on the current Attorney General on the Capitol steps on the Fourth of July. At high noon.

    In the mean time, I will offer my own wisdom on this grave decision: Have we had to release one inmate from jail in for Public Drunkenness, Driving Under Suspension, Unpaid Fines or Tickets, Marijuana Possession or Littering to make room for a Murderer, Burglar or Wife-Beater lately?
    Well, let me look it up.

    Wait, I don’t have to look it up to guarran-damn-tee you the answer is Hell NO! When are we going to grow the nads to finally stand up to the ever-expanding Police State we are becoming, no that we ARE and say enough is enough! How is it we have to cut back in the name of Austerity to reduce spending in every area, from feeding the hungry to prosecuting robo-signing mortgage frauds, except for the Police and Criminal Justice Industry? Even more so since the crime rate is lower now than it has been in decades despite every effort to felonize minor infractions and skew the stats in every way possible?

    I give you this common sense obviously wise decision at a 50% discount, deliverd in record time. Have your people get in touch and I’ll tell them where to send the $125,000.00 I just earned.

    Rise up all yee sheep! If we can’t stop this locally we and our children will live to envy the freedoms we will only be able to fondly remember.

    “People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both”

    Thomas Jefferson

  2. ANONYMOUSAY says:

    If the local State Attorney didn’t allow repeated probation violators to go in and out as they please on an average of seven or eight arrest for serious law breakers in Flagler county before they get sent to state prison they wouldn’t have this problem. No they rather stock the local jail with drug addicts and minor traffic violators and get no where until times like this WHEN THEY NEED REVENUE “we need a bigger jail” No control whats here and make potential criminals that come to Flagler County uncomfortable. Proactive not Reactive. But in their eyes the County is going to make money form the State and the State is going to make make money form the Government. One big make money scam until we end up like California over incarcerated and broke. Than start to claim “Oh we made a mistake locking people up for minor offense’s and instead of making money now we’re losing money let’s let them out. Modern day slavery, sad.

  3. tulip says:

    Re: N Smitty——-I know people get upset and feel very strongly about issues but I didn’t know “strong “expletives like the “F” word was allowed )3rd sentence, second paragraph). Hope it doesn’t start a precedence.

    [Tulip, gratuitous “bad words” aren’t recommended or usually let through, but it’s not a blanket ban: in context, there are no such things as bad words. There are only words. And they remain words. As far as Smitty is concerned, he is FlaglerLive’s resident Carlin: he gets much broader latitude than most commenters in his use of words, because he usually uses them very well, often poetically so, and editing them out would be like bleeping Carlin: it’s far more offensive than the words themselves.–FL]

    • NortonSmitty says:

      Sorry tulip. I m the Post-Traumtic Poster Child and if I get wound up it just flows. I’ll try to tone it down, but outrage requires the outrageous sometimes.

  4. SAW says:

    I guess the Tea Party with it’s weak leadership no longer exists, what if anything did they ever accomplish anyway ? My guess is they just held meetings in order to vent, and of course maybe for the snacks after the meetings.

  5. palmcoaster says:

    @Norton Smitty. Perfectly described. Wonder who is in the take this time as when they spend over 100 million of our hard earned dollars in the Rte 100 Taj-Mahal, Emergency Service and King Hammond palaces. What they need to do is move faster on those pony&monkey trials and send the guilty to prison and let go of the innocent . That will sure make plenty of jail beds vacant and/or pitch some tents to hold the excess like in Maricopa County, AZ desert. Enough is enough of these commissioners abusing our pockets. Where all the traffic violations and other law enforcement fines $$$ collected go..? Use that to buy the tents cheap from the military overstock, the concrete patch underneath and some solar fans.

  6. palmcoaster says:

    The prisons on the links below, built with bonds backed up by the taxpayers based in fraudulent statistical projections ended up being the biggest costly blunders mandated by the elected state, county and city officials pseudo economic development czars. Now the victimized taxpayers are due to pay for them…Is this what Judge Zambrano, Sheriff Fleming and the County Commission are planing for our pockets here too? Buy and pitch some tents “a la Arpaio” in Maricopa, AZ..
    Three lines of county bonds in our home taxes are enough so far. No need for any more.

  7. palmcoaster says:

    Governor veto aka thumbs down, the $250,000 for the county jail.
    Then, Judge Zambrano, Sheriff Fleming and the County Commissioners need to thumbs down the project as well and tell Coffey NO new jail we can’t afford it! Move those cases faster thru the court and send suspects to prison or free them if found not guilty. We can’t afford a 2, 12, 18 or 25 million jail….what are they thinking? They need to leave the sales tax as is now or otherwise split $200 of the total $450 that I overpay this county more than I pay the City of Palm Coast that services 839 residents per sq mile versus the county 197 per sq mile and give those to $200 to the city to provide the services we pay for and do not receive yet. County needs to stop building castles with the palmcoasters taxes. Go get some surplus Feds tents and pitch them up by the current vacant land location “a la Arpaio”.

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