Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nassau Sheriff OKs Raises before Exit; Successor Doesn't Know Impact; Spending Properly His Only Concern

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nassau Sheriff OKs Raises before Exit; Successor Doesn't Know Impact; Spending Properly His Only Concern

Article excerpt

Byline: Dana Treen

During his last months in office, outgoing Nassau County Sheriff Tommy Seagraves has approved raises, payouts for vacation and other leave, authorized the purchase of new vehicles for undercover work and recognized a union bargaining unit for lieutenants and sergeants.

The impact of those decisions will be handed to incoming Sheriff Bill Leeper when Seagraves turns over the keys to the Sheriff's Office in January.

Leeper said he doesn't know what the effects will be.

"I don't have all the facts to make a determination of the overall impact," he said.

Leeper plans a review that will look at the agency from top to bottom and include purchasing practices, salary structure and contracts. A transition team is gathering information and developing questions. Personnel will be assessed on their qualifications and capabilities, he said.

Leeper said he wants to be sure the agency is spending tax dollars appropriately.

"That's my only concern at this point," he said.

Seagraves has authorized $340,000 from the budget that ended in September to pay for unused leave time pay and new vehicles, while 5 percent raises will be paid from $10.8 million in salaries and fringe benefits from the agency's $14.7 million budget that took effect in October.

In the past, the agency has bought back unused vacation and other leave time at the end of the year, which came to about $180,000 for the fiscal year that just ended.

Other agencies in Northeast Florida have similar policies but have limits on the amounts and types of leave time that is reimbursed.

Seagraves said $160,000 for six new vehicles came from the Sheriff's Office share of seized assets in a drug case the county worked with the federal government.

He said the expenditure decisions are his to make.

"Why wouldn't I keep doing what I've been doing? …

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