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Alachua County sheriff budget fight goes to Florida Supreme Court

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Alachua County has gone to the Florida Supreme Court in a dispute about whether Sheriff Sadie Darnell could transfer money within her budget without approval from the Alachua County Commission.

Attorneys for the county have filed an initial notice asking the Supreme Court to resolve the dispute, according to documents posted Thursday on the Supreme Court website.

The move came after the 1st District Court of Appeal backed Darnell in September.

Under state law, sheriffs propose budgets to county commissions, which then can make changes before giving approval.

The legal dispute has centered on whether Darnell had “unilateral authority” to subsequently transfer money within her budget without approval from the commission, according to the appeals court.

In part, the appeals-court ruling pointed to the sheriff’s status as a constitutional officer and a section of state law that it interpreted as a “broad preservation of all powers necessary for the sheriff to carry out the duties and responsibilities of her office, which necessarily must include authority over her budget and office’s expenditures.”

Also, the ruling said nothing in state law requires the sheriff to seek approval from the commission before transferring money.