Marion County Sheriff’s Office Requests $8 Million Funding Increase

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The Marion County Sheriff’s Office is seeking an $8 million increase in funding, which would allow for additional deputies, corrections officers and new cars.

The Board of County Commissioners said it would take a drastic raise in taxes to grant the sheriff’s request for the additional $8 million.

Capt. James Pogue, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said the proposed $8 million increase could be useful in many ways, including updating the department’s fleet. He said most of the vehicles in its fleet are at least 5 years old.

Pogue said the sheriff proposed to let him hire 20 deputies, 16 to 20 correction officers for the jail and to purchase 30 cars.

Joe Rothenberger, a Marion County resident for more than 25 years, said he understands the sheriff’s office may need better funding, but if that means a 16 percent hike in property taxes, it’s too much.

“I’m a property owner, I own a house here and I would be upset because 16 percent is quite a bit and that would even affect me,” Rothenberger said.

Rothenberger agrees the police department could use the money.

“We’re gonna be out of protection in Marion County,” Rothenberger said. “We need the protection even though it’s a very safe county to live in. We still could use more help because there is crime here.”

Pogue hopes public safety proves to be the winning argument.

“I think between a combination of redistribution of current monies along with, yes, maybe a tax increase, it could be accomplished,” Pogue said. “Is it worth it? You tell me — it’s public safety. Are you worth it?”

But his office said a county proposal delivered Tuesday asked the sheriff’s office to cut more than $2 million. Despite tense negotiations, county commissioners still expect to hold their final vote on the budget at 7 p.m. Thursday.

About Ethan Magoc

Ethan is a journalist at WUFT News. He's a Pennsylvania native who found a home reporting Florida's stories. Reach him by emailing emagoc@wuft.org or calling 352-294-1525.

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