Okaloosa declines to pay higher Dept. of Juvenile Justice costs

Published: Monday, July 21, 2014 at 11:57 AM.

Okaloosa County commissioners say they won’t stop fighting the state Department of Juvenile Justice over ongoing so-called overcharges for housing young offenders. County Attorney Greg Stewart will join 20 to 25 Florida counties in a formal objection to the DJJ’s latest funding rule, which hasn’t been approved yet.

The dispute dates back to the 2009-10 fiscal year, when the DJJ overcharged Okaloosa and several other counties to house juvenile offenders. The counties filed a lawsuit in 2011. A state appeals court sided with the counties in a recent ruling but stopped short of requiring reimbursement. Overcharges have continued for the past four years, the counties' officials say.

Okaloosa, the other counties and the Florida Association of Counties — represented by Tallahassee firm Nabors, Giblin & Nickerson — are protesting the proposed funding rule. It calls for them to pay 57 percent of the detention costs while the state pays 43 percent.

Under the proposed rule, Okaloosa County would be charged $680,000 to house juvenile defendants with monthly payments of $57,000. Officials say they plan to pay only $18,000 a month because that level of funding is in line with the court's findings.

Commissioners are setting aside money in a reserve fund in case the rule ultimately is approved.

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