9911 Seminole Blvd. Seminole, FL 33772       Ph. 727-397-5563   View TBN's FREE e-Edition today!  
Click here to learn more
Dunedin Beacon Facebook Twitter
Dunedin pools grant funds jail transport
Article published on
  Print E-Mail
DUNEDIN – The Dunedin City Commission unanimously approved on April 16 pooling grant funds from the United States Justice Department with other Pinellas County municipalities to expand the sheriff’s countywide prisoner transport system.

Each year, cities receive funding from the United States Department of Justice Assistance Grant, nicknamed the JAG program, said City Manager Rob DiSpirito. These funds may be used for various law enforcement acquisitions and functions, he said. For instance, in 2008, Dunedin used its $10,000 of funds to buy a trail bike and an electric utility vehicle for the sheriff’s community policing program.

This year, Dunedin has received $54,412 out of about $3 million that was allocated countywide by JAG funds, DiSpirito said. This increase in funds is partially due to the economic stimulus package. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has proposed 12 municipalities pool their funds to expand the prisoner transport service countywide.

The Sheriff’s Office currently has a pilot program for unincorporated areas of the county and its five contract cities, including Dunedin, which provides transport vans to transport and book prisoners into the county jail.

“The benefit to the cities is that local law enforcement will no longer have to transport and book prisoners into the county jail, allowing them to instead remain in their cities doing patrols and doing local law enforcement,” DiSpirito said.

However, the Sheriff’s Office must cut $55 million in its budget, so this grant money would ensure the program will exist for at least the next 18 months, said Robert Gualtieri, chief deputy with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

As of the April 16th meeting, the other cities that contract with the Sheriff’s Office – Seminole, Madeira Beach, Safety Harbor and Oldsmar – had already approved donating their grant allocations. The other municipalities involved in the 18-month program are St. Petersburg, Largo, Pinellas Park, Tarpon Springs, Gulfport and St. Pete Beach.

At the end of the 18 months, Gualtieri said, the cities that the Sheriff’s Office do not contract with will have the option of either using additional grant money to continue to pay for this service, fund it independently through the general fund, or withdraw from the service. He added that the sheriff’s office has no intention of discontinuing the service for Dunedin and the other contracted municipalities after the 18 months are over, but there is no way to predict the economic climate at that time.

The commissioners expressed support for the program but concerned over cost.

Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski said she is glad to provide the money but is concerned because this program is already part of the regular services provided and she does not want to sign up to have a new, regular cost to the city. Bujalski and other commissioners said they were concerned that after the 18 months are over that this would become a line-item that would mean permanent, future cost.

“I think the program is great – I’ve seen it first-hand,” Bujalski said. “I’ve been on a ride-along, I’ve seen how it works and have visited the Pinellas County Jail where a lot of the booking people said it is a great program. IT gets them in and out much quicker and it keeps the sheriff’s deputies on our streets more. So I totally agree with it, but I’m questioning, if we’re already getting this service, and whatever the charge is, it’s in what we’re already paying, but now we’re going to take an additional $50,000 to extend the service. It sounds like now you’re telling me I have another bill.”

Gualtieri replied that it is currently not part of the city’s contract with the sheriff’s office – it is a free, pilot project that was intended for the unincorporated areas of the county and was expanded to the sheriff’s contracted cities. The Sheriff’s Office has already cut numerous positions and services due to budget cuts, he said, and these funds would ensure the safety of this service. This will expand the program to have 22 vans countywide to transport people to the jail.

Gualtieri added that he regrets there was not more time for Dunedin to consider this and ask more questions, but the Department of Justice set a fast deadline for applying for the grant, and at the time of the meeting, the request needed to be sent the following day. This topic had been set for discussion at an earlier commission meeting, but it had gotten postponed due to a question brought up by Pinellas Park.

The commission and Mayor Dave Eggers ultimately approved the grand fund use, but they encouraged more communication in the future.
Article published on
Copyright © Tampa Bay Newspapers: All rights reserved.
Printable Version E-mail article
Community Focus Online
Featured Print Advertisers
Tarpon Springs Recreation Division
Zombie Run, 10/17
Coastal Cleanup, 10/7
Trunk or Treat, 10/31

Web site        View Ad
Five Fish Boutique
735 Dodecanese Blvd, Suite 1, Tarpon Springs
(727) 485-8660

Web site        View Ad
Law Office of Stephen C. Whalen, P.A.
1968 Bayshore Blvd., Dunedin
(727) 726-0439
(727) 409-7347(Cell)

Web site        View Ad
Tarpon Springs Merchants Association

Oct. 15 - 18

Web site        View Ad
Abbey Carpet & Floor of Largo
13120 66th St. N.
(727) 524-1445

Web site        View Ad
NuSmile Dental
13611 Park Blvd., Suite G
(727) 475-7866

Web site        View Ad
US Ammo Depot
118 E. Tarpon Ave, Suite 208, Tarpon Springs
(727) 940-8636

Web site        View Ad
Flooring America
9012 Seminole Blvd., Seminole
(727) 397-5509
100 Patricia Ave., Dunedin
(727) 733-1356

Web site        View Ad
Bell Hearing Instruments, Inc.
801 West Bay Dr., Suite 405, Largo (727) 585-2675
Factory Location
700 Stevens Ave., Oldsmar (813) 814-2355

Web site        View Ad
Senior Health Care Solutions

(866) 633-4427

Web site        View Ad
Florida Center for Back & Neck Pain
Dr. Greg Hollstrom
11444 Seminole Blvd.
(727) 393-6100

Web site        View Ad
Omega Gamma Delta Fraternity
Looking for Alumni
Contact Mark Quering
Beta Chi 1972

Web site        View Ad
Custom Couture of Tarpon Springs
208 East Tarpon Ave., Tarpon Springs
(727) 238-7194

Web site        View Ad
Oakhurst & East Bay Medical
13020 Park Blvd., Seminole
(727) 393-3404
3800 East Bay Dr., Largo
(727) 539-0505

Web site        View Ad
Tampa Bay Newspapers
Online Advertising
For information, e-mail
Online Services Directory
Tampa Bay Newspapers
9911 Seminole Blvd.,
Seminole, FL 33772
Phone: (727) 397-5563
Fax: (727) 397-5900
Submit News