A judge has ruled that municipalities in Palm Beach County that were refusing to help pay for an Office of Inspector General (OIG) will have to abide by the will of the people and pay their share of the bill.

Judge Catherine M. Brunson of the 15th Judicial Circuit Court ruled that a county-wide referendum to establish an OIG funded by the county and all of its 38 municipalities, trumped the argument that the referendum infringed on the sovereign immunity of municipalities to determine their own budgets.

“The people are the municipalities and the officials who represent the people may not undermine the electorate process because they disagree with the vote of the people,” Judge Brunson wrote in her 11-page opinion. Brunson cited the fact that a majority of voters in all of the county’s 38 municipalities voted to establish an OIG.

In 2009, the depth of corruption in Palm Beach County prompted the county’s Attorney General to convene a Grand Jury. The Jury recommended the creation of an ethics ordinance and government watchdog in the form of an OIG.

The referendum was held Nov. 2, 2010. On May 17, 2011, the BCC adopted Ordinance No.2011-009 to implement the OIG and include a “funding mechanism” that required the municipalities to each pay a portion of the OIG costs. The ordinance authorized the Clerk and Comptroller to submit quarterly billings to the municipalities.

Read more at these links:

Read Judge Catherine M. Brunson’s 11-page opinion

The Palm Beach Post article