Wakulla County Board Approves Payment to Settle Lawsuit

Wakulla County Board
Posted at 8:48 PM, Jun 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-05 17:17:41-04

CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. (WTXL) - Wakulla County taxpayers will foot the bill to settle a lawsuit against the former sheriff.

Monday night, the Wakulla County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved paying a $105,000 settlement after former sheriff Charlie Creel broke Florida's open public records law back in 2015.

The current sheriff Jared Miller says his predecessor willfully ignored requests for public records.

"There were eight issues involved," said Sheriff Miller. "According to the attorney that represents me as the Sheriff, he recommended that we would lose six out of the eight. He could not argue those so I think it's a no brainer that we go ahead and settle." 

The $105,000 will come out of the county's general fund. That means every penny of that money is taxpayer money that's supposed to be used to improve the county. Instead, it'll all be used to settle the ongoing lawsuit.

"There [are] a lot more important things we could be doing with that money, so it's really disappointing to have to spend those kinds of funds that something that we really wish we didn't have to," said Wakulla County Commissioner Chuck Hess.

Sheriff Miller says all requests will now go through a Public Records Custodian to be replied to in a timely manner. He's also been taking steps to make sure his administration learns from past mistakes.

"I had an attorney come give us a full day class on public records laws," said Sheriff Miller. "The biggest thing is being transparent to our citizens. They deserve transparency and that's what I want to give them as the sheriff. We don't have anything to hide."

The pending lawsuit against the former sheriff is expected to be settled within the next week.

The Wakulla County Board also approved a request for $9,500 to buy new software and equipment for the Sheriff's Office's Narcotics Unit. The money will come from the county's Drug Trust Fund. That's money specifically set aside for these kinds of purchases.