Update: Lamberti, Ritter Worked Out Budget Compromise


Sheriff Al Lamberti has shaved $21.4 million from his budget in an attempt to compromise with county commissioners.

They have demanded he cut at least $50 million.

The compromise was hammered out during quiet meetings between Lamberti and Broward Mayor Stacy Ritter.

Since the meetings started this month, the heated rhetoric between commissioners and Lamberti has cooled as both sides have tried to find a way out of the budget morass.

County commissioners can cut anything they want from Lamberti’s budget, since they provide the money for the Broward Sheriff’s Office to operate.

But Lamberti can appeal any decision they make to the Florida Cabinet. 

The Cabinet consists of Republicans Gov. Charlie Crist,  Agriculture Secretary Charles Bronson and Attorney General Bill McCollum. The lone Democrat is Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink

Since Crist originally appointed Lambert and since the sheriff  is the most visible Republican in Broward, it is highly possible that the three Republicans on the Cabinet would overrule any decision the commission makes.  

That’s why commissioners are desperate to avoid a showdown with Lamberti which would result in him appealing to the Cabinet.

Lamberti also has the PR advantage with voters.  He is the best-known office holder in the county and can accuse the commissioners of threatening public safety if they force him to cut too much.

The commission has another problem which complicates their position.  Lamberti presents a solid front, while commissioners are sharply divided, with members often publicly arguing among themselves.

Lamberti looks like a statesman.  They sometimes look like squabbling children.

So Ritter, in particular, has been working around the clock to find a compromise.

We shall see what happens at the budget workshop Tuesday.

UPDATE:  According to Scott Wyman of the Sun-Sentinel here, Broward County commissioners today accepted Lamberti’s compromise.

So the budget fight between the sheriff and county commission is apparently over.  That’s a good thing.

It appears that Ritter and Lamberti deserve thanks for settling this unsettling dispute.

7 Responses to “Update: Lamberti, Ritter Worked Out Budget Compromise”

  1. where was my invite? says:

    Sunshine laws.
    My final answer.

  2. Resident says:

    I’m a little confused. I thought Broward County had a County Adminstrator, who is like a County Manager, responsible for all day to day operations. The Commission is not to interfere with the Adminstrator’s function.

    So why does Broward Commissions, even the Mayor, negotiate on such matters? Is the Mayor violating the County Charter? Shouldn’t it be the Administrator negotiating, or should we just get rid of the Administrator because the Commissioners have taken over their powers. (Though then they won’t have someone to blame, except themselves, when there is a problem).

  3. No Violation says:

    Local elected officials are absolutely allowed to negotiate proposals with one another, even outside of the sunshine, so long as they don’t serve on the same board. What county commissioners cannot do is interfere in administrative functions by directing staff on their own. The charter is not violated by any county commissioner and the sheriff developing ideas for budget balancing.

    Good question though.

    Consider how much more a county mayor could do if elected independently, at large, and if that person did not serve on the board of county commissioners. Such a mayor could work directly with administrators to ensure that the message of the people was being implemented on a day to day basis, something not done now. Also, such a mayor could negotiate value with individual commissioners without violating the Sunshine Laws. It seems that this is the exact type of Mayor that Sunshine Laws would expect us to have. Yet we don’t. Pity because that would be one heck of an improvement over what we have now.

    FROM BUDDY: You are right. The Sunshine Law does not cover a mayor/commissioner with the sheriff. It only applies if two commissioners meet with the sheriff.

  4. majorpenalty says:

    still no mention about trimming (slashing is a better word) the huge amount of fat among the top heavy brass.what about double dippers????line staff will not see a raise this year.one way or another, at least, it seems to be settled. thank GOD we still have jobs.

  5. Too Little says:

    The residents of this county permit their elected officials to lash them unnecessarily with taxes that are higher than necessary for services that are less in quality than we deserve. With few exceptions, our elected leaders lack the courage to do the difficult work, make the difficult choices that good government demands.

    Unions use their political clout to pressure elected officials into holding the employment interests of a relative handful of people over the economic interests of hundreds of thousands of residents and businesses. Their agenda is more pay for less work and better working conditions irrespective of the financial impact to residents and businesses.

    Government managers and line employees have a greater stake in surviving to retirement than they do in serving the public to the best of their ability, placing decidedly greater emphasis on “civil service” over Public service. They are constantly betrayed by their elected leaders and so they have no loyalty to the public or to their leaders, only to themselves and this poisons their desire or ability to properly serve the public.

    At root is a lack of inspired and benevolent leadership necessary to take government in the right and proper directions. For a county as large as ours, as rich as ours, with as much to offer as Broward does, we are relatively undistinguished as a community and this should bother us all.

    So long as this continues we will have government that is less efficient than it could be and more costly than necessary.

  6. Robert Lewis says:

    Ms. Ritter has not gotten enough praise for putting together this very difficult compromise. Where are the editorials in the paper?

  7. The Truth says:

    Sheriff Lamberti was a real stateman and agreed to compromise. He is a outstanding public servant while the county commissioners are politicians out for themselves.