BURKE COUNTY (WJBF) – “Once that reasonable budget is set if you’re an elected official one of four constitutial officers then the commission can’t tell you how to spend that money” said Burke Co. Sheriff Alfonzo Williams.

It has been an ongoing battle between Burke County sheriff Alfonzo Williams and the Burke County board of commissioners.

Sheriff Williams is appealing a judge’s ruling that lets commissioners have control of his budget.

“Those kinds of things handicap me and my ability to recruit and hire and train and retain the best qualified folks” said Sheriff Williams

In a statement, Williams says the sheriffs department is given funds for things like payroll and educational incentive pay for deputies, and the commission’s control can be a barrier to how they use that money.

In the statement it shows the sheriffs office is given $100,000 per year for overtime pay however if they wanted to request more they would have to do that in front of the burke county commission.

The sheriffs department is also given another $100,00 for the detention center out of the commissioners budget Sheriff Williams say this has been an issues for years.

“The first four years I was in office from 2017 to 2020 there were to many controls in place that didn’t allow us the autonomy and flexibility that we needed to do our job adequately” said Sheriff Williams

He says this can also affect deputies and how they work.

“It discourages officers from working if I have an officer working night shift and he calls in sick well we still need someone to replace him we don’t have officers interested in working overtime because the pay is not sufficient and they want heir time off” said Sheriff Williams.

The County Manager for Burke County responded with the following statement,

“Last year, Sheriff Williams filed a lawsuit against Burke County claiming he was not allowed to handle his own payroll for his deputies. Judge Stone ruled earlier this year against Sheriff Williams and in favor of Burke County that the Board of Commissioners should continue to handle payroll matters for the deputies just like they do for all the other County employees. Although the Court ruled against Sheriff Williams, he is now appealing the case to the Georgia Court of Appeals. The County expects the Appeals Court to rule the same way that the local court did, that it is wise and efficient for Burke County to continue to handle payroll responsibilities. This allows the Sheriff the right to manage the total number of deputies and other employees under the Sheriff of Burke County and their amount of pay, subject only to the overall approved budget total as set by the Burke County Board of Commissioners.”

“The Board of Commissioners is dedicated to spending the taxpayers’ dollars as wisely as possible, including giving our Sheriff’s Office more money and resources than any other County our size in Georgia. Fire, ambulance, and police protection are important to the Board of Commissioners, and they are dedicated to continuing to provide money for the best services in this area. Unfortunately, the cost of the lawsuit filed by the Sheriff has used up money which could have been used to serve the citizens of Burke County.”