To the editor:
I have been asked many questions about the legality of the Lee County Sheriff offering bonuses to the employees of the Sheriff's Office. Members from different aspects of our community, from business leaders to blue collar workers and Republicans to Democrats all have the same question: Is what the current sheriff doing legal?Why is he doing this?
I cannot speak for anyone, but I can tell you what the law says. My Open Star program is designed to shed light into all aspects of your Sheriff's Office, as you see I am doing in this letter.
Florida Statutes regulate how public employees receive bonuses. The following things must happen in order for the bonus to be legal: The award must be based on work performance, the performance standards and evaluation processes by which a bonus will be awarded needs to be established and known to all employees, the sheriff must notify all employees of the policy before the beginning of the evaluation period on which a bonus will be based, and the sheriff must consider all employees for the bonus. None of these conditions have been met.
It would be heartbreaking to offer a bonus only to have it found illegal and then be required to pay a fine or some other penalty out of the pockets of the taxpayers or the deputies down the road.
I am very much for rewarding hard work and dedication. I'd rather see a cost of living increase of salaries to offset inflation for the men and women of the Sheriff's Office rather than a hastily constructed, illicit bonus with unknown intentions.
In this case the law is very clear.
Candidate, Lee County Sheriff