Lee Co. Sheriff talks about needs, despite tough budget - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lee Co. Sheriff talks about needs, despite tough budget

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  The Lee County Sheriff's Office is asking for a big budget increase while other county departments are cutting their budgets.

Sheriff Reggie Rachals says his office is struggling to keep up with the county's growth. He wants 1.5-million dollars more to put more officers on the street, replace patrol cars, and increase pay.

Commissioners say they value public safety, but there's no way they'll raise taxes. The finance said last year the Sheriff's Office got a big increase in their budget because they needed it, this year they say public safety is one of the only areas that will see some increase, but it they've simply got to hold the line on taxes.

In Lee County, Sheriff Reggie Rachals say his resources aren't enough to keep up with the county's growth.

"The population and the business is growing, is over growing the Sheriff's office ability to cover it like it needs to be covered," said Rachals.

With just shy of a thousand calls to the Walmart area last year alone, he's planning to ask the finance committee next week for more manpower, not just on the street, but in investigations, and the jail.

"The over time is what's hurting us on the jail time, because we're so short handed on help," said Rachals.

His overtime budget is twice what was budgeted and guards are on call on what should be an off day. Lee County's finance committee is committed to public safety, but is holding tough on taxes.

"We will give the Sheriff and the jail as much as we possibly can without raising the millage rate," said Ed Duffy, Lee County Finance Committee.

As it stands the Sheriff's request for 14 patrol cars, 10 tasers, and over $258,000 for new employees and raises and would force the county to raise taxes.

"If we would give the Sheriff everything that he has requested yes we would need to raise the millage rate," said Duffy.

As much as 2 mills. The finance committee and the Sheriff both hope to meet somewhere in the middle.

"I know it's tough on the commission to make these decisions, but it's also my job to make sure this county's covered and protected to the best of my ability," said Rachals.

Sheriff Reggie Rachals says his officers will continue to do their best, whatever they're budgeted.

The finance committee also pointed out where other police agencies are promising as many as 12 furlough days, they're not expecting any for officers in Lee County.

The Sheriff will come before the Finance Committee Wednesday at 1:30. The hearing is open to the public and will be held at the Tharp Government Building.

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