Sheriff, commission avert court battle - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sheriff, commission avert court battle

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October 21, 2004

Albany- Sheriff Jamil Saba sued the Dougherty County Commission for slashing his budget. The suit was supposed to be tried Monday. Sheriff Saba will get to keep the six employees who would have lost their jobs in the county budget cuts. Even so, his budget will still be reduced by $167,000.

But now that there's talk of consolidating city and county police, the sheriff and commissioners agreed to put aside their differences and focus on that.

Flanked by Sheriff's employees who stood to lose their jobs in the budget cuts, Dougherty County Commissioners shook hands with Sheriff Jamil Saba on an agreement that will keep them on the job.

Sheriff Jamil Saba said "I didn't want to lose any Deputies, and I will fight for my Deputies, because they do a great job."

Commissioners said it made more sense to put money into the salaries of the Sheriff's employees, than a lawsuit.

Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said, "We feel that the only folks that would win in a lawsuit are the attorneys."

Commissioners met the Sheriff halfway, restoring $167,500 back into the Sheriff's current budget- enough to keep all his employees working. The money will come from the two million dollars Phoebe Putney Hospital gave back to the County earlier this month.

Saba said "I'm willing on sitting down and shaking their hand and doing whatever it takes. But I still want to do my job for the people of this community."

Now both Sheriff Saba and Dougherty County Commissioners say they want to join the city for a review of law enforcement in Albany and Dougherty County. "We can get to the next phase of bringing the best law enforcement to our town, for the least amount of money, in terms of making sure we are efficient," Sinyard said.

A citizen's group study says Consolidating the City and County Police Forces could save $850,000 a year. The Sheriff and County Commissioners want to study how to do it before the next year's budget is drawn up.

The Sheriff and Commissioners say an outside agency must be brought in to do the law enforcement review.

posted at 4:05PM by dave.miller@walb.com