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Thursday, December 30, 2021

City of Ocala seeks amendment to reduce city’s correctional work squad officers

The City of Ocala is seeking a second amendment to the city’s contract with the Florida Department of Corrections to reduce the number of correctional work squad officers.

The matter will go before the Ocala City Council for approval during its regular meeting on Tuesday, January 4, 2022.

The current contract with FDOC provides for two correctional work squad officers, and the city wants to reduce this to one officer.

The inmate work squad assists the Stormwater Division of the Public Works Department with a variety of maintenance responsibilities including mowing, litter control, retention pond maintenance, and other miscellaneous projects, according to city records.

Under the contract, one correctional work squad officer can supervise an inmate work squad that consists of up to five inmates.

On October 1, 2016, the Ocala City Council approved a three-year agreement with the FDOC through September 30, 2019, with an additional three-year renewal option. The contract was renewed on October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2022, with no remaining renewals.

During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, the FDOC suspended the use of inmate crews by agencies with contracts for inmate work squads. The FDOC did not bill the city for any costs associated with this contract until inmate work squads were allowed to resume in late October 2020.

The use of inmate work squads was again suspended in April 2021 due to a lack of inmate correctional officers. According to city staff, FDOC has yet to determine when the use of these squads will resume.

With approval from council members during the upcoming meeting, the amendment will lead to an expenditure reduction of $100,619 through fiscal year 2022-2023.

The Ocala City Council meets at 5 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of every month at the Ocala City Hall, which is located at 110 SE Watula Avenue in downtown Ocala.