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Advisory panel to appeal proposed cuts to sheriff's office

Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 9:28 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 1:31 AM
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While the 2014 balanced budget approved by the Augusta Commission included across-the-board 2.4 percent cuts in all the consolidated government’s departments, lopping what amounts to nearly $900,000 from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office will really hurt, a member of the sheriff’s citizen advisory board said.

David Dunagan, a member of the Citizens Advisory Board created by Sheriff Richard Roundtree after Roundtree took office last year, said he’ll appeal to the Augusta Commission today to spare the sheriff’s office from the cuts to keep successful initiatives in place and build on new ones.

“The sheriff inherited a good department, but he’s taken it from there. Homicides are down about 50 percent,” Dunagan said. “Traffic fatalities are down about 40 percent… We as citizens feel like the last thing we need right now is to cut 2.4 percent.”

Meanwhile, Roundtree has stretched his existing budget in creative ways, such as the new safety officers who help patrol downtown at one-third the cost of an armed deputy and a new “zone manager” program that will connect residents to a supervisor who is assigned to their particular neighborhoods, he said.

The sheriff’s office budget of $56 million is more than a third of the General Fund budget of $143 million set under Georgia law by the Augusta Commission. The commission is scheduled today to discuss the status of each department’s efforts to implement the cuts.

Commissioners Bill Fennoy and Marion Williams said they were uncertain the commission could deny the sheriff, an elected official, any needed funding while Commissioner Bill Lockett said he wished all departments hadn’t been cut evenly when the commission approved the budget.

“Most of these departments except for the enterprise funds, they’ve been struggling year after year,” Lockett said.

“I’m trusting the sheriff who was elected by the people to do what’s right,” Williams said.

The commission meets at 1:15 p.m. today for a called legal meeting to discuss litigation, real estate, personnel and administrative proceedings behind closed doors, according to a meeting notice. The body is scheduled to begin its regular meeting at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the commission chamber, 530 Greene St.

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bubbasauce 02/04/14 - 04:58 am
Cut it. Time to get back to

Cut it. Time to get back to reality folks. I know it's really hard to give up 2.5% but I think they'll survive.

dichotomy 02/04/14 - 02:05 pm
"Commissioner Bill Lockett

"Commissioner Bill Lockett said he wished all departments hadn’t been cut evenly when the commission approved the budget."

That is what politicians always say....after the fact.....but I didn't notice Lockett coming in with a plan of his own to balance the budget without raising taxes.

You could get half of the sheriff's 2.4% back if you canceled that massive expansion of the planning and zoning office. I don't understand why, after all of these years, we need that many new employees in that office. The only difference I see is the new department head we hired that was let go from her former employer. Of course, I can see why she might have more credibility with certain members of the commission that the last guy.

If you really want the sheriff to keep his 2.4%, there are cuts that could be made elsewhere.....but the commissioners would have to take their blinders off to see them. Canceling the planning and zoning expansion and just ONE of their idiotic $half million dollar "studies" would just about pay for it.

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