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For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

In the wake of the Volusia County Council’s decision to sue the state government to nullify the recently-passed Amendment 10 of the Florida Constitution, Sheriff Mike Chitwood says he is preparing to battle the county government and the state in court.

“The Florida Sheriff’s Association is providing a legal team to us,” Chitwood told The Beacon. “All I can tell you is that they are chompin’ at the bit. Their exact words to me were, ‘This is frivolous. This has been litigated and ruled on.’ The county is trying to block the ballot measure.”

Amendment 10, which was adopted by a super-majority — 63 percent — of Florida’s voters last month, designates the sheriff and other elected county officials in Volusia and other charter counties as state constitutional officers.

The constitutional status gives those elected officials more control over their budgets and their agencies’ operations and policies, including hiring and firing. Besides the sheriff, the clerk of the court, the property appraiser and elections supervisor will assume new powers and duties, if the courts uphold the constitutional amendment.

If the constitutional revision does indeed go into effect, Volusia County must also elect a tax collector.

With the council’s backing, County Attorney Dan Eckert confirmed earlier this month that he is working on the lawsuit challenging Amendment 10, which would override Volusia County’s home-rule charter.

The charter, which was adopted by a majority of the county’s voters in 1970 and went into effect in 1971, removed the sheriff, elections supervisor, clerk of the court and the property appraiser from state constitutional status. Those offices became elected department heads in the county administrative hierarchy headed by the county manager.

The tax collector’s office was, over time, absorbed into the county’s finance department.

Chitwood says he will travel to Tallahassee Dec. 18 to confer with the FSA’s attorneys and public-relations staff.

“It’s going to be a fun-filled day,” Chitwood concluded.

So far, there is no word when or in which court the county’s challenge to Amendment 10 may be filed.


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