Lumpkin City Council member speaks out about spending - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

Lumpkin City Council member speaks out about spending

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Lumpkin mayor Charles Gibson discusses spending with Councilwoman Barbara Cullefer Lumpkin mayor Charles Gibson discusses spending with Councilwoman Barbara Cullefer
LUMPKIN, Ga. -

Emotions ran high at Wednesday night's Lumpkin city council meeting. It all boiled down to money, and who's keeping an eye on how it's spent.

The mayor of Lumpkin may be over the personnel, but the council is over the city's money, said member Barbara Cullefer at the meeting. She's raising the question, why does the city have less than $60,000 to its name while the bills keep rolling in? And she's calling out one department in particular.

Last week Cullefer took it upon herself to visit City Hall and delve into Lumpkin's outstanding bills. What she found shocked her.

She says the police department alone had over $11,000 in bills, including nearly $3000 solely for gasoline for patrol cars.

"That is a lot of money for the police cars in the city of Lumpkin to me," says Cullefer. "You know, we don't have that much money now, and how can we spend that much money on gasoline?"

There are only seven officers in the entire department, but Chief Javier Garcia says since he's taken over, a lot has changed, requiring more actual patrolling. He says, "We aren't security guards, we're police officers. We're out here enforcing the law, and yes, since there's more activity, of course gas is going to go up."

Mayor Charles Gibson didn't take the assessment lightly, saying, "This council complained that the police was doing nothing. Now the police is doing their job and we're complaining that they're spending."

He also brought up Cullefer's own campaign to spend $50,000 to tear down a drug store.

The councilwoman made it clear, however, that she thinks there is a lack of proper bookkeeping, saying there's no proof of insurance for the officers who opted out of the city's proffered health insurance plan, and pointing out that hourly police officers don't turn in time sheets.

"This was to make people realize we need to watch what we spend, and be careful with what we're spending," says Cullefer, emphasizing that she wasn't trying to single out the police department or the mayor. Those just happened to be the bills she ran across first.

Residents like Martha Latimer aren't happy about the spending either. "We don't have anything here," she says. "We don't even have a grocery store here. We don't have nothing here, but you can't even walk the street. The police harass everybody."

Chief Garcia maintains that his department is getting drugs off the streets with help from two new K-9's that belong to two police officers. The city does not pay for these dogs but the officers drive them home in their patrol cars every evening, contributing to the spike in gas usage. The two officers reportedly live in Columbus and Newnan.

Chief Garcia also says the police budget for Fiscal Year 2014 has just gone into effect, the reason many of the bills are being addressed now.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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