Lanier Co. deputies and staff furloughed - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lanier Co. deputies and staff furloughed

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The Lanier County sheriff says he's practically had to shut down his office because county commissioners refuse to give him enough money to run it properly.

He says it's a political move aimed at running him out of office.

The county commissioners' attorney says they've given the sheriff adequate funding and he needs to live within that budget.

Capt. Mike Anderson walks through the door to begin his shift in a nearly deserted office. He and the sheriff were the only ones working when our cameras were rolling at the Lanier County Sheriff's Office early Monday afternoon.

"From noon until eight, deputies will only be able to handle calls of peril," said Sheriff Norton. "You've got to be in dire straits before the deputy can crank the car. The sheriff's office is only allowed $100 dollars per day."

In a letter from Nick Norton to his staff he writes that on duty deputies will only respond to life threatening calls, no more patrolling or traveling to take reports. Criminal and narcotics investigations have been shut down too for now.

The sheriff says he's been forced to hand out furloughs to everyone at the sheriff's office. He says this envelope contains a resignation letter and he expects more to come.

"The commission, they feel like they gave the sheriff adequate funding last year," said Tim Tanner, the Lanier County attorney. "They approved a budget almost $1.1 million. Currently as of June third the sheriff's over budget approximately $240,000."

He says they filed a lawsuit back in August informing the sheriff to stick to the budget. Tanner says he's refused to do so and now they had to take civil action.

"$605,000, that's what they ran the sheriff's office on in 2005," said Tanner. "In 2010 five years later he's increased that by 140 percent."

 "I would hope the governor, lieutenant governor and state agencies will recognize this as an attack on a constitutional officer," said Norton. "This is an attempt for commissioners to control a constitutional officer."

Sheriff Norton says unless there's an emergency injunction signed by a judge this shutdown of services could continue until next year's budget is approved.

Sheriff Norton's attorney, Bill Stone, says county commissioners are wasting taxpayer money for lawyers on both sides when the should try to work out the dispute out of court.

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