Sheriff milking the budget – let me count the ways

Recently Historic City News purchased a report containing the payments and deposits through St Johns County Sheriff David B Shoar’s operating account.  He’s asking for millions of your dollars to provide law enforcement services next year; so, we wanted to look at how he is spending the money he got last year.

We are still sifting through the check register (even though on June 7th, Records Supervisor, Sergeant Bonnie Jimmerson, told us “The St. Johns County Sheriff’s does not operate from a check register nor has it maintained a check register since the late 1980’s”) and we are pulling records as we spot items of public interest.

We’ll start with using agency funds to payoff friends and campaign supporters, and the first example is a glaring one.

In a formal announcement to the City Commission on April 26, 2010 William B Harriss resigned his position as St Augustine’s City Manager — the man that Shoar answered to from 1998 to 2004.

Harriss, who will turn 67-years-old in October, is a reserve deputy with the St. Johns County Sherriff’s Department, is listed on the tax return as a director of the sheriff’s infamous “Four Star Association”, and now a paid contractor who furnishes various unspecified “consulting and strategic planning services”.

Under his current contract, Harriss takes $18,000 a year from the general budget.  Last year he only reported $13,100, according to his Form 1099-MISC.  On the first day of each month, the sheriff pays Harriss $1,500.00; unsupported with a detailed voucher or invoice.

Harriss made the contract with Shoar as an individual.  He does not hold a St Johns County Business License (Business Tax Receipt) to legally provide consulting services.  He is not incorporated, nor has he filed a Fictitious Name Notice, establishing himself as a business entity.

However, Shoar is not withholding federal income tax, social security, or Medicare from Harriss’ check, and the IRS has ruled that it takes more than a “Services Contract” to establish an “independent contractor” relationship.  He will probably be considered an “eligible worker”, subject to withholding, in an IRS audit of his paid relationship with our county sheriff.

From the Internal Revenue Service:

Most individuals you hire are considered “employees” by law. These include:

  • Temporary workers unless hired through a temporary services company that has the worker on its payroll
  • “Casual labor” and many “1099 workers”
  • Friends, relatives, and others receiving anything of monetary value in exchange for their work

Many independent contractors:

  • Independent contractors must meet specific requirements to be considered exempt from employment laws.
  • There are several laws defining independent contractors, each with different requirements.
  • You can’t assume someone who meets the independent contractor definition and is exempt from one set of employment laws is therefore exempt from other laws.
  • The burden is on you to prove someone who works for you is NOT an employee.






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