Lee co. sheriff Mike Scott was batting four for four when he emerged from a showdown with the deputies union in front of the Lee co. commission. The elected officials sided with Scott on four issues, including no pay raise.
"I feel this is justified. I am elected by the taxpayers of Lee, and they want me to decide how the money is spent. They don't want an attorney from Sarasota coming down here and telling us how to spend our tax dollars," said Scott.
The union local, representing about 400 deputies, wanted a pay raise, and other changes in sheriff's office policies. The union says, deputies are so poorly-paid that some have to get food stamps and other government assistance, to survive.
"That is not union propaganda. That is fact," said Ryan Burton of the Intl. Union of Police Associations.
Scott says deputies make an average gross income of $49,500 a year, plus free health benefits that can amount to an extra 16-thousand dollars.
Scott says he cannot afford to grant a pay raise at this time. The union has been asking for 26-hundred a year, more in pay. "That is exorbitant and outrageous," said Scott.
Commissioners agreed, sending the union to defeat on all four issues at the impasse.
Both sides now will try to work out a new contract.