Several versions of an agenda item that included putting new vehicles for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office on the street failed to get enough votes during Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting.
The measure failed because commissioners couldn’t agree on how $2.6 million in Budget Improvement Requests left over from the 2021 budget should be spent.
After four unsuccessful votes, the BOC agreed to table the item until its April 19 meeting.
New County Administrator Sharon D. Subadan is expected to be in her position at the time.
County financial advisor David Corbin presented a proposal that included several items that were not discussed in the finance committee’s meeting, which raised questions from Commissioner Ann Jones Guider.
“We never talked about some of these things at our committee meeting,” Guider said. “This is no way to do a budget. I cannot more forward if I’m not going to be kept in the loop. Y’all are going to vote the way you want to anyway.”
Commission Chairman Romona Jackson Jones said all commissioners received an email late Monday about the new proposals from Corbin.
Corbin’s version included a $2.9 million capital outlay fund, which is separate from the BIRs, that included money for the new Punkintown Nature Preserve in Villa Rica ($350,000), fencing for the new coroner’s office ($34,580), litter removal and lawn maintenance ($400,000), and four new equipped vehicles for the coroner ($252,000).
Originally, the BOC was to only vote on restoring 8.25% that was cut last year to each county department’s budget ($1,781,703), new sheriff vehicles ($500,000) and computer software for tax commissioner’s office ($514,000).
“This is all new to me too,” Jones said. “I want everybody to keep an open mind and look at the items. We have capital needs in this county.”
Guider reminded the other commissioners that the sheriff’s vehicles and software were pressing issues that needed to be resolved.
“This board is really inclusive despite what most people may think,” Commissioner Tarenia Carthan said. “It was something here for our citizens. Yes, the sheriff needs his cars, but I pray that I’m never in the back of a sheriff’s car. Yes, the coroner needs her vans, but I pray I’m never in the back of the van. I tell you being able to have the grass cut and litter picked up, being able to walk into Punkintown Park with your family, those are the things these families would have been able to experience.”
Last month, Sheriff Tim Pounds spoke to the BOC about the urgent need of new vehicles to replace patrol units he said are unsafe because of high mileage.
“After two years, it is really and truly unsafe to drive. I don’t want my deputies to get hurt,” Pounds told the BOC in early March.
“We should move forward if we want this county to move forward,” Guider told the BOC before the item to fund the sheriff’s vehicles failed 3-2 Tuesday. “We’ve discussed these items so many times I’ve had grey hair from doing it.”
Commissioner Kelly Robinson offered commentary on the debacle.
“It is unfortunate we can’t put things aside,” said Commissioner Kelly Robinson, who wanted some conditions put in place to secure his vote. “We are doing it because we can. It is silly, and I’m disappointed. We are fighting against each other, and they are looking at us like, ‘really guys.’ It is like this is so simple. It is like being accommodated and included. Everybody gets a plate. The hatred. We are all adding stuff in. It is too immature.”
Robinson wanted to include a long term capital plan that focuses on ongoing maintenance for public safety vehicles, economic development and transportation.
“Those are my words, let them lie,” he said.