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Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter Standing Up For His Deputies? The 3 yr tale of the tape

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – During the February 16, 2012 County Commission meeting, Commissioner Jody DuPree claimed that Sheriff Mark Hunter is "always tryin to figure out how to get raises for his people. So not at one moment has the Sheriff of Columbia County ever not tried to fight for his people... He has approached this board about that on many occasions."

Not really.

The 3 year tale of the tape

On January 15, 2009, newly elected Sheriff Mark Hunter appeared at the microphone for the first time at a County Commission meeting. He did not ask for more money for his underpaid deputies.

On February 19, 2009, the County Commission revisited a budget amendment originally submitted by former Sheriff Bill Gootee. Sheriff Hunter returned $264,336 to the County general fund without asking for a dime for his deputies.

On August 13, 2009, Sheriff Hunter was recognized at a budget workshop. According to the minutes Sheriff Hunter did not ask for an increase, nor did he speak up for more money for his deputies. It was just the opposite. The minutes state, “He said that his department has attempted to assist with the tough economic times by giving up $75,000.”

On November 5, 2009, the Sheriff’s yearend budget close out for the previous year was discussed. Sheriff Hunter recommended that a line item for overtime be established in his budget. If the Sheriff had read the budget he would have discovered the overtime line item had been in the budget for years. The Sheriff did not ask for more money for his deputies.

On February 18, 2010, Sheriff Hunter appeared before the County Commission. He did not ask for more money for his deputies.

On May 6, 2010, Sheriff Hunter appeared at the County Commission to ask for $86,705 to fund lightening protection on communications towers. He did not mention his deputies.

On August 17, 2010, at another budget workshop, Sheriff Hunter “expressed concerns with having to trim his budget.” He said nothing about getting his deputies more money.

On October 7, 2010, your reporter insisted that Sheriff Hunter, whose salary is paid by all the residents of the County, answer his own questions and explain why he did not make his own budget presentations. Commissioner Williams had your reporter thrown out of the meeting. The Sheriff sat by and did nothing.

After your reporter was escorted out the Sheriff, at the direction of Commissioner Williams, came forward to answer your reporter’s questions. The Sheriff did not answer why he could not present his own budget, even though it is 1/3 of the County budget. Sheriff Hunter did not ask for more money for his deputies.

The reign of Commissioner of Jody DuPree

In 2011 during the reign of Commissioner DuPree as County Chairman, Sheriff Hunter mainly stopped coming to County Commission meetings. The deputy assigned to the meeting kept the Sheriff updated.

Chairman DuPree's erratic and autocratic behavior also kept most of the public away from the meetings.

A County Official explained the Sheriff's no shows this way, referencing Commissioner DuPree he said, "He [the Sheriff] doesn't want to be put on the spot."

In 2011, Columbia County's intimidated Constitutional Officer, Sheriff Mark Hunter, didn't make a presentation of his own budget.

Of course, he didn't ask for more money for his deputies. He couldn't, as he didn't stand up at the microphone or show up at most of the meetings. 

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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