Pick almost any day each week and you’ll find the county’s IT department working on the sheriff’s records management system.
Though Sheriff Billy Carlisle is hesitant to call what his department uses now to manage records a “system” at all.
“We have so many programs running, and none of them can communicate with each other,” he said.
Earlier this month, Carlisle proposed a new system that would allow each division in the sheriff’s office to communicate data seamlessly, but at a cost the board of commissioners is questioning.
The new system, known as InterAct, has a price tag of about $271,000.
Carlisle said the new system is necessary for the department to run efficiently.
“Instead of adding more personnel to our department, we’re trying to look for ways to do our job better. Personnel in the long run costs us more money,” he said.
The new system would also have the ability to connect with the fire department, various local courts and the district attorney’s office.
Commissioner Mike Connor asked if the new system would eliminate any jobs.
Carlisle said the manpower he would be able to save would be reassigned to operations at the new courthouse when it opens next year.
If the board approves the new system, County Manager Kevin Tanner said adjustments to the 2011 budget would be necessary.
Commissioners asked why the new system was not included in the 2011 budget, which the board approved in July.
“I’m concerned that this was known before the budget came out and couldn’t work it in the budget,” said Connor. “I know it is an important thing, but we couldn’t buy all the patrol cars you wanted.
I personally don’t know what’s more important — patrol cars or this system.”
The sheriff said, like other departments within the county, he was told not to add any additional expenses to his budget.
Commissioner Gary Pichon weighed in.
“It’s true this was not budgeted, but we also have available funds to do this. For me the question is does this request meet the test for reasonability, and for me, it seems to be,” Pichon said.
Freeing up time for deputies is also a value to the community, he said.
“The same people that elect us are the same people that elect the sheriff ... if the people of the county think other offices are misusing funding, the people will replace them,” Pichon said. “That’s the risk all elected officials run.”
Carlisle said his department has needed a new system for well over a year.
“The system we have we got in 1998. It’s just so old and consistently going down. It’s worn out,” he said.
Without the new system, Carlisle said the only alternative is going to be the hiring of more employees.
“And for every employee you hire, you have salary and benefits to pay and that never goes away. We’ve got to figure out a way to do our job more efficiently, with less staff, and this is the only alternative we have to this problem,” he said.
Tanner suggested a three-year bank loan to fund the system if the board votes to approve.
He cautioned using reserves from the county’s fund balance.
The commission is expected to discuss the system during its next voting meeting Nov. 4 in the GL Pete Gilleland Chambers at the Dawsonville Municipal Complex.