They asked him to cut his spending. They say he refused and now they have no choice but to file a lawsuit.
Lanier County commissioners have filed a lawsuit against sheriff Nick Norton for not staying within his budget. For the fiscal year 2011 they allocated 1,090,000 for his office. The sheriff requested 1,575,000 dollars. They say since Norton became sheriff in 2005, spending for the office has increased by 141 percent.
"They know they're not appropriating enough to run the sheriff's office," said Sheriff Norton's attorney William Stone. "They know he has to ask for more money and they they're going to have to give it to him."
The lawsuit states the board of commissioners has the responsibility for adopting annual budgets for all departments including constitutional offices such as sheriff. Stone says the sheriff duties are beyond control of county government.
"They take no fault as to the liability they're potentially incurring when they have to transport prisoners in old worn out vehicles," said Stone. "If there's an accident the county's going to suffer."
The lawsuit says the sheriff's office has adequate provision for the personnel and equipment to preserve the law and preserve the peace.
Stone says the sheriff is not getting the appropriate funds to protect citizens in Lanier County. County commissioners say increasing his budget would increase taxes.
County commissioners are asking the court to to get the sheriff to stay within the budget set for fiscal year 2011. Stone hopes the claims against norton will be dismissed as and hopes the court will force the county to appropriate more money.
We were unable to get more information from the county chairman. The board of commission's attorney Tim Tanner said he couldn't go on camera said the lawsuit outlines Sheriff norton's spending and disregard for the budgetary process and that the board of commissioners can't ignore it and ensure the solvency of the county.
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