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BOC votes 4-3 to give Sheriff needed funding

POSTED: July 9, 2014 2:00 p.m.

The Barrow County Sheriff’s Office will receive extra funding so that it can make it through the end of the fiscal year.

County Commissioners voted 4-3 Tuesday to give the department $407,000 to cover costs for the department. The funding comes after commissioners agreed to give the department $50,000 as they waited for more details on the request.

Smith said Tuesday that the budget committee’s recommendation last year of making $770,000 in cuts was a way to force him to harm his employees. County leaders later decided to restore half the funding after Smith raised concerns.

Smith said that he told the budget committee last year that his department could not survive the cuts. Smith said that then-County Manager Jock Connell suggested Smith meet with county commissioners in a smaller setting to prevent a quorum that would allow the public and media to attend.

"The $777,000 cut from my budget was to try to paint me in a corner of cutting positions and salaries," he said.

On Tuesday, Commissioner Billy Parks swayed the vote in favor of the amendment as he joined Commissioners Isaiah Berry, Steve Worley and Ben Hendrix in its approval. Voting against amendment for a second time were Chairman Pat Graham and Commissioners Kenny Shook and Joe Goodman.

Shook and Graham said it’s a misconception that the final budget had cuts to BCSO. With the potential sale of guns and phone cards then the budget would’ve provided what Smith first asked for, Graham said.

"It was our belief that you were fully funded," she said.

Shook denied the talk that cuts were aimed at employees and reiterated that he believed Smith put less money in certain areas because he knew they had to be funded.

The original budget amendment request was for $457,000 but county officials subtracted the $50,000 they gave the BCSO in June. The budget amendment included $30,000 for overtime, $95,000 for fleet maintenance and $175,000 for fuel. The remaining $140,000 was to cover inmate food.

Smith said that the BCSO has saved $4.6 million in salaries since they were cut in 2009. He said that that of the items he’s requesting more money for is a necessity.

Goodman said Smith’s presentation Tuesday night turned into him pointing fingers at the commission.

"This idea that you were being picked on is incorrect," he said.

Some of the problems this year have been not having enough staff and the snowstorms, which led to increased overtime costs, Smith has said.

 

COMMENTS

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2 comments
barrowwatcher: July 10, 2014 7:12 a.m.

I am a little confused. The commissioners want the Sheriff to sell guns to fund his budget? Most counties are having gun "buy back" programs to get guns off the streets. Are the county commissioners ready to accept the public scorn when one these guns is used in a crime and someone is hurt or killed? Is the commissioner's next program going to be to ask the Sheriff to sell drugs that he has seized to also help fund his budget? Maybe that is the commissioner's next plan.


Nic30: July 12, 2014 12:19 p.m.

It sounds like this whole budget process needs to be reviewed. Forcing Department heads to reduce their budgets is a common practice in this era of shrinking resources. If the BOC allowed the Sheriff to cut from such line items as fuel cost and maintenance cost the BOC was simply asking for trouble. The Sheriff knows it is an unenviable position for the BOC to reject any increases because the Sheriff is crying that he will have to park his patrol cars. With overtime, there is such a thing as comp time which is perfectly acceptable under Garcia which is a case law governing public safety pay. Mr. Goodman, you learned well in your American Government class.



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