Scott Israel defends request for budget increase

Broward sheriff asked county commissioners for $30M budget increase

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward Sheriff Scott Israel defended his request for a $30 budget increase for the agency.

"It's not a bluff," he said. "We need more funding. It's that simple."

Israel said that threats of layoffs at the Broward Sheriff's Office weren't a negotiating ploy.

"You're not throwing this out there to put more pressure on the county commission?" asked Local 10's Bob Norman.

"Bob, that's not in my DNA," Israel said. "I'm very concerned about it, deeply concerned about it. You lose sleep over this. This is no bluff. The men and women that make me look good on a daily basis, they don't deserve to be used as a pawn or as a bluff or anything like that. This is very serious."

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Israel said BSO is facing a $30-million budget shortfall and if he doesn't get more money, there could be more than 200 layoffs.

"I won't say I'm going to lay off people, I would rather use the term that's a possibility, because most of our budget is personnel," he said.

The shortfall, Israel said, was due in part to $8 million in unforeseen health insurance costs, a rise in Florida Retirement System costs, and $4.5 million paid out by former Sheriff Al Lamberti in benefit packages before he left office.

Several commissioners told Local 10 an extra $30 million for BSO isn't available. Israel said he hopes to reach an agreement with the county within a few months.

"The safety of the Broward County resident will be the paramount thing I think and consider in any decisions I ever make," he added.