Florida Welcome Center I-95 by Stephen Weppler is licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

In an effort to enhance transparency and accountability to voters for local government, Florida Rep. Mike Giallombardo (R) has introduced HB 1553 – specifying that county budget officers report directly to the board of county commissioners.  

The bill would allow county commissioners to direct county budget officers, streamlining communication regarding the budget. According to Giallombardo, by doing this, county budget managers will be “on par” with the county manager and the county attorney, prioritizing local fiscal issues and reinforcing accountability for elected officials.  

Because of Florida’s Sunshine law, which provides a right of access to governmental proceedings at both the state and local levels, the commission cannot talk about the budget with one another without a public hearing, making collaboration difficult. Giallombardo says his bill will mitigate that, putting the budget manager in a position where they are working for the county commissioner. The current situation creates problems because elected officials are not allowed to ask enough challenging questions, and share information, leading them to be overly reliant on budget managers.  

Giallombardo said the goal of the bill is to “create checks and balances to ensure that there is not an overreach of local government on the citizens.” Sen. Jonathan Martin (R) is backing a similar bill in the Senate.