Sheriff, Others Not Following Across The Board Cut - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Sheriff, Others Not Following Across The Board Cut

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Augusta, GA -

Augusta Commission Finance Committee Chairman Wayne Guilfoyle says it's in this year's budget - an across the board 2.4 percent cut.

"We weren't asking each department to do the cut, we were telling them it was a mandatory cut throughout the government," says Guilfoyle.

Commissioners approved the cut to slice more than $3 million off the budget, but city Finance officials say, out of that $3 million, only $1.4 million in cuts have been identified. That leaves a budget gap or more than $1.7 million.

"I was hoping I would get more interest from other people. Let's look at this again, let's address it, and let's stay on top of It" said Guilfoyle.

But, Commissioner Bill Lockett says he didn't like the idea of an across the board cut to begin with. "We hadn't actually sat down and discussed what impact would this have on us, you know. I mean, year after year, you can tell departments to cut but you get to the point you can't cut and still do those things you are responsible for doing" said Lockett.  

For the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, the cut adds up to nearly $900,000.

Lawyers representing the Sheriff's Office have sent a letter to the Interim City Administrator and Commissioners, calling the cut "unreasonable", and saying it cannot be implemented.

"We're trying to discuss it with the Commission now," says Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton. "And, in your letter, you're saying you can't do it?" we asked. "We're saying, in the letter, we're telling them it's inadequate funding too properly to keep the community safe and secure," added Clayton.

"Are you asking the Sheriff to take that much money out of his budget?" we asked Guilfoyle. "From what the Finance Director told me...is they already agree to it. Now, I guess that agreement is not longer there," said Guilfoyle.

But, what is there is a now more than $1.5 million shortfall that Commissioners have to make up.

"So, you would support raising taxes if these cuts are not realized?" we asked Lockett. "Certainly, I would, because we're one of the lowest taxed municipalities in the area," says Lockett.

If all the cuts don't come about, Finance officials say Commissioners can cut in other areas, dip even deeper into reserves. Commissioners already approved using $4.5 million from fund balance in this year's budget, raise taxes, or implement furloughs to make up the difference.

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