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County staff says sheriff’s 2018 budget is nearly $1 million more than 2017
County manager to sheriff: notion that we have refused to meet over budget issue is “just wrong”
David Headley
David Headley.

Previously updated: Nov. 28, 2017, 2:43 p.m.

County Manager David Headley at last week’s board of commissioners work session read a pointed report regarding Sheriff Jeff Johnson’s current lawsuit, in which the sheriff is seeking a $700,000 increase over what he has currently been allocated for 2018.

Headley said he wanted to have “the public understand there is more to the dispute” than what was addressed at a public meeting held by the sheriff at the beginning of this month.

Neither Headley nor any of the commissioners were present at the sheriff’s meeting.

One of the arguments Headley made was that the sheriff has ignored or refused requests by the county departments to assist him in matters of human resources, finance and purchasing, grants and maintenance.

“We have well trained staff and policies which can help with compliance with the law and with doing things in the most efficient and economical way,” Headley read. “Our offers have frequently been ignored or declined.”

Headley also said the sheriff has been given nearly $1 million more than in his 2017 budget.

“The board increased the sheriff’s allocation from SPLOST funds and the general fund very substantially for 2018, the largest increases for any department or office...the most the board could do without raising taxes,” Headley said.

Another issue Headley brought up was positions that the sheriff has requested- nine in total, one of which, a school resource officer, was recently granted.

Though Johnson’s defense of his request for more money has always been so that he can fulfill the duties of protecting citizens and providing law enforcement, Headley pointed out that none of the requested positions were for patrol deputies.

“He asked for four detention officers for the jail...a communications officer, an investigator, an accreditation manager and a court services deputy,” Headley read, “Nine positions, none for patrol.”

Headley also addressed a comment made by Johnson’s attorney Joey Homans at the Nov. 6 public meeting, the same day that Johnson filed the lawsuit against the board of commissioners.

“We can’t even get anybody to sit at a table and talk with us about seeing why these options won’t work,” Homans said after discussing where within the county’s current funds the money for the deficit could be found.

“The notion that we have refused to meet over these matters is just wrong,” Headley said in his report. “County staff and officials have offered to meet, and did meet, with the sheriff and his staff over these issues, and have met with the sheriff since the budget process began.”

Headley said that the report was “strictly my report to the commission” and that it came from the county manager’s office.

An order requesting an appointment of a judge to hear the sheriff’s lawsuit was submitted Nov. 22.