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Thomas Co. sheriff says cuts won't prompt crime

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Sheriff Carlton Powell Sheriff Carlton Powell
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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

November 20, 2008

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - Belt tightening is going on everywhere, and in Thomas County they're looking at a seven and a half percent cut in the county's budget.

Every county agency will take a big hit, including the Sheriff's Office. Possible furloughs and cutbacks on employee's hours will likely be the first step.

The topic of the week for taxpayers, county agencies, and Thomas County Commissioners has been the budget.

And after three days of budget talks,a $900,000 cut back was agreed upon. But now, they arecalling for another $1 million decrease.

"We trust they're not going to have such an adverse effect that we can't do our jobs," said Sheriff Carlton Powell, who has concerns about how budget cuts will affect his agency.

"Some of it's going to require us to not have as many people at some situations as maybe we'd like to have," said Powell.

One of his biggest concerns is the short-staffed department, and not enough money in the budget to fill those open positions.

"At this time we've got two men that are overseas in the military, and we've got 6 or 8 people in the reserves that have weekend details."

But he assures the public that their safety will not be jeopardized. "We're not going to sacrifice the law enforcement. If we get to were we are not functioning properly, I will go back before the commissioners and say, here is our problem."

But employees will take some hits like drastic overtime cuts, and shorter hours. "We're looking probably at some furloughs. Probably send some people home early, somedays when we're having court."

The County manager met at the Emergency Services Center with all the department heads to come up with a plan make the $1 million reduction.

Mike Stephenson, the county manager, refused to go on camera to discuss the meeting.

The Thomas County Commission hopes to finalize the budget plan Tuesday and approve it the first week in December.

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