NEW PORT RICHEY — Just three weeks ago, the Pasco County Commission rejected Sheriff Chris Nocco’s request to add an extra $500,000 to his $91 million budget.
Nocco didn’t give up, though, and this week he asked for an even larger amount.
In a letter to commission Chairman Ted Schrader, dated Tuesday, Nocco asked for an additional $594,704 that he said was needed for such non-recurring expenses as bullet-proof vests for SWAT members, laptops for deputies and conversion of the jail’s computerized inmate-management system to a more updated system, among other needs.
The request, coming on the heels of the previous denial, left commissioners somewhat perplexed at a Wednesday commission meeting.
“Where are we going to get the money?” Commissioner Pat Mulieri asked. “We said we didn’t have the $500,000, now it’s up to $600,000.”
The commissioners’ conclusion: The same as three weeks ago.
They directed County Administrator Michelle Baker to let Nocco know no more money is available and it’s up to the sheriff to decide whether items on his latest list are important enough to move ahead of other needs in his spending plan.
In his letter, Nocco said the amount the commission budgeted for his office “would make it difficult for the sheriff’s office to cover all of its operational needs.”
“Tell him we are not telling him not to buy bullet-proof vests,” Commissioner Henry Wilson said. “He can prioritize.”
Funding for the sheriff’s budget comes through the county, but the sheriff’s office makes its own decisions on how to spend the money, Baker said.
“Last year we provided them an increase when no one else got one,” she said. “He made an opening offer (this year).We responded with something less, He has continued to come back for more.”
She said the commissioners would need to find a funding source if they wanted to grant the sheriff’s request, but commissioners said the money simply isn’t there.
“I’ve supported the sheriff,” Mulieri said. “But this is tight economic times.”