Sheriff gets some relief for his budget - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sheriff gets some relief for his budget

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Dougherty County Sheriff will get some, but not all of the money he requested for his budget.

The county commission finance committee plans to send some grant money his way which will help pay for Body Armor and Taser guns to keep his deputies safe. But, like other county employees, his employees won't get any raises, or an added uniform allowance.

Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul said he needed new bullet proof vests, taser guns and radios to keep his deputies safe, but they were considered by the county to be an expansion of services, so the county administrator struck them from his budget. Now, it appears some money will be available in grant form for those items.

Sheriff Sproul said, "They are going to provide some money toward this. Not the whole amount, but I'm pleased with what they are. At least they're giving me my voice to speak my concerns and are addressing it to a certain extent, but you know Karen, there's only so much gold in the pot and these are tough times and we've all got to work through them together."

"In years past, we argued over thousands of dollars, whether included or excluded," said Finance committee member Dr. Chuck Lingle, "This year, we're looking at dollars and pennies."

The Sheriff knows just how tight the county's entire budget is, and that's why he's cut his down by almost 5% over last year. But he says the money for equipment is vital to the safety of his deputies. 

He said, "You got to be careful where you put your deputies, if they're not protected, 'cause we live in tough times now, not only economically, but with crime the way it is."

And it's not just when deputies are out on the road. Keeping the public, and public servants safe at the courthouse is also a top priority. Part of the grant money the Sheriff may get for the upcoming budget would go to improve equipment like metal detectors that are old and outdated. Others would be moved to the Sheriff's office, which currently doesn't have any screening equipment.

Lingle said, "I can understand the desire he has to provide those items of equipment and the numbers we reviewed this morning, it looks like that money is available and could be used for those items."

Still, just like other county employees, raises are off the table, and the uniform allowance won't be increased. "Everybody is having to struggle to meet this budget year," said Lingle. And the Sheriff says while it will be a struggle to make it through, that's exactly what they'll do. "It's going to work, we're going to make it work."

And hope the economy turns around for the next year. Even with a 5% reduction in his budget, the $15.5 Million the Sheriff oversees for the jail and his department makes up almost 35%percent of the county's General fund.

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