BURKE COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) — Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams is speaking out again about the fight with County Commissioners over budget control.
The Sheriff hosted a breakfast Wednesday morning with federal, state and local law enforcement.
At the Burke County Sheriff’s Office’s inaugural “Breakfast on the Beat,” citizens were invited to attend and ask questions or make comments. His issues with county commissioners and the county manager came up.
One woman asked Sheriff Alfonzo Williams about what she called “misappropriation of funds,” referring to his fight with the Burke County Commission over nearly half a million dollars in grant money.
“The report came that funds were used inappropriately. Was it corrected? Did you pay back the funds? What happened with that situation?”
“We have not misappropriated anything. I have not paid back a dime. I will not pay back a dime. There’s no missing money. There’s no missing money. There might be disagreements about how it was spent, but we’re taking care of people in this community,” said Sheriff Williams in response.
NewsChannel 6’s Kim Vickers caught up with the sheriff after the event for an update on the budget control issue.
He said his office dropped the appeal to the ruling on a lawsuit he brought against the commission to gain control of his budget.
“I decided because Commissioner Abrams asked to, let’s just work this out and stop fighting back and forth. So, we dropped the appeal.”
Noticeably absent from Wednesday’s breakfast were the Commissioners and County Manager, Merv Waldrop.
“I reached out to the commissioners. I was hoping that they would be here today, and they were not here. But we hope that they will see this report,” said Williams. “We hope that they will see our Facebook Live and understand that this was a resounding message that we want to reach out to them. We want to work with them. We want to find amenable ways to get back to reasonable governance of the people and stop the fighting.”
Williams tells NewsChannel 6 that the Sheriff’s Office is in dire need of equipment, office space, training locations and a new jail, but it’s a fight to get those things approved through the commission.
“We train heavily. We need a firing range. We asked them on last week to let’s get moving on it. It’s been nearly two years. We can’t wait much longer,” Williams said.
Williams also expressed frustration with the lack of communication with the County Manager.
“We have never sat down together and worked out a reasonable budget that we can both get along with,” he explained.
Williams stressed that he wants to improve relations with Waldrop and the Board of Commissioners so they can work together for the wellbeing of Burke County.
NewsChannel 6 reached out to the commission and Waldrop for response. Waldrop declined to comment.
District 5 Commissioner, Art Lively responded by email saying: “I did not attend the Sheriff’s breakfast yesterday because, frankly, the other commissioners and I have heard this all before. We have had multiple meetings to discuss the BCSO budget. Sheriff Williams met with two commissioners last week and we have a commission meeting every month that he often attends and makes his requests known. The BCSO budget has had significant increases every year that Sheriff Williams has been in office and the combined budget of the Sheriff’s Office, and the detention center has doubled since his first term. I appreciate the work Sheriff Williams and his staff do to protect this county, but I also believe he has been provided more than enough funding to run his department and serve the people of Burke County. Sheriff Williams disagrees. Taxpayer money continues to be misspent, and public funds have been abused.”