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Sheriff to show BOC his budget needs at next meeting

POSTED: June 29, 2014 12:00 p.m.

County leaders will likely decide in two weeks how to handle a budget shortfall for the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Jud Smith said he’ll provide county officials the financial statements showing how the department’s money has been spent as he seeks to receive more funding for fuel, fleet maintenance, food and overtime. A Board of Commissioners meeting last week turned testy when they voted 4-3 against providing $457,000 for the BCSO and detention center.

The board later voted to give $50,000 to the department as a contingency until their July 8 meeting. Following the meeting Smith said he believes the department can make it until then with the $50,000 and by moving some money around.

"They did not give me what I needed from the get-go, so I’m going to provide the numbers and answer any questions that they have," he said.

Last week’s debate stemmed on whether Smith said he could make-do with a budget that was around $400,000 lower than the previous year. Commissioner Steve Worley said he told the sheriff that he would ask for additional funding later in the year if Smith said the department needed it.

Chairman Pat Graham said Thursday that she and some commissioners had questions that were not answered last week. She voted against the $457,000, but later made the motion to provide the $50,000 until more details could be provided.

Graham said she understands some of the extra expenses are due to unexpected events like inclement weather.

"I’m hoping we’re going to be reasonable and the sheriff will be reasonable and get this on the agenda to let commissioners weigh in on it," Graham said.

Barrow Chief Financial Officer Rose Kisaalita discussed the latest budget amendment request from Smith prior to it going before commissioners.

"I advised him to move money from other places so that if the budget (amendment) is approved we can move it back," she said.

There is some flexibility in how money can be moved around, but there could be problems if the BCSO does not receive more funding before the fiscal year ends in two months.

"We’re not allowed to spend what we don’t have," Kisaalita said.

 

The thwarted budget amendment included $30,000 for overtime, $95,000 for fleet maintenance and $175,000 for fuel. The remaining $140,000 would cover food.

Financial statements dated June 25 show that overtime and fleet maintenance were nearly $20,000 over budget and there was $545 left for fuel.

Smith requested $375,000 as part of a contract for food for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, but only $243,000 was budgeted. Financial statements show that $32,000 was later transferred from salaries to cover some of the inmates’ food.

County leaders originally tried to slash the BCSO and detention center budgets by $777,000 but reversed that decision In September 2013 after Smith said his departments couldn’t survive with that. They agreed to use $410,000 in tax revenue to restore some of the funding. There was also discussion about potentially having an additional $90,000 from phone cards purchased by inmates, and a sale of firearms could offset some of the shortage.

The revenue from gun sales has been estimated at $250,000, however the process has taken longer than expected. Smith and County Manager Randall Dowling are working together to get the guns inventoried and the process will have to be approved by a judge before the firearms can be sold.

 

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