Legal Organ used to Screw Tax Payers?

Time to trade in my hat?

Maybe it’s time for me to trade in my armadillo hat for a tin foil hat (difference explained here), because when it comes to conspiracy theories, when the paper gets involved you are getting deep.  Case in point: on Monday a prominent business leader has a letter to the editor published against raising taxes, and then the next day the Sheriff has his answer published.

I will confess that I don’t know a lot about the publishing business, but it would seem that the Sheriff being able to get his rebuttal published the next day is very impressive.  The normal member of the armadillo hat club may think it is a coincidence or efficiency, but a member of the tin foil hat club would think that the Sheriff was able to pull some stings.   You might ask “what strings the Sheriff would have” as I did.  To get the answer you need to know a member of the tin foil hat club and when I found one, the answer was the legal organ.   If you are like me, the next question is: “what is the legal organ?”   I discovered that the legal organ is the place that all legal notices must, by law, be published.  It looks like the legal organ for Hall County is the Gainesville Times and the Sheriff is one of the people that can determine the legal organ and having the legal organ means a lot of ad and subscription money.

In the Sheriff’s article, he says;

“Let me close by addressing Norton’s call to stop boarding inmates and mothball certain portions the jail to save money. This suggestion has, as part of the overall budget process, been offered and studied. But the facts are that scrapping the program would enable us to eliminate approximately $1.2 million from our budget and a multitude of headaches associated with the program. But it would cost the county and its residents $6.5 in documented revenues. That’s a net loss to the county of $5.3 annually.”

I guess that is why he didn’t like Lutz’s suggestions.  It would seem the main difference, however, is that the Sheriff wants to keep his shiny new jail where Lutz had proposed to move him back to the old one.  So this is where I have to question the Sheriff when he says that, “It’s not about kingdoms.”

Bottom line is that this is about the budget.  While the Sheriff compares his cost to Forsyth County, I would like to say that when one government agency compares itself to another, we are in bad shape.  But if he would like to compare, we can.  You can view the Forsyth County budget here.   Here is the comparison:

Hall

Forsyth

Revenue (2011)

$90,425,876

$88,167,748

Sheriff’s Office Expenditures

$30,610,824

$36,057,100

Population (2010)

179,684

175,511

Size of County

393.66 sq mi land

225.8 sq mi land

Millage Rate (2010) Plus Fire

6.25+1.51= 7.76

4.734+1.975= 6.709

Municipalities

8

1

Municipalities with Police

4

1

Municipal Population w/ Police

~45,000

~5,800

Population for Sheriff

~135,000

~170,000

Square Miles for Municipal

~34.7

~6.9

Square Miles for Sheriff

~359

~219

Jail Budget

$15,642,627

$6,810,450

Court (Sheriff) Budget

$1,714,497

$3,236,700

Investigation Budget

$2,168,276

$4,023,700

Operations Budget

$1,662,071

$6,558,650

Department Budget

$8,454,751

$11,872,850

In comparing the budgets, it is not easy to align some of the buckets, but from the best I can tell, Forsyth County invests a lot more money in things like enforcement.  Things that actually impact service to the community.  When you look at the Forsyth budget, you will see that ~$5.4m of the total Sheriff’s fund is taken up on “Internal Service Charges”.  In other words, the Sheriff is made to pay rent for their jail and stuff so the taxpayer could actually see the impact.  It looks like Commissioner Lutz figured that another entity would pay $4m rent on the “new Jail”; if these items were loaded into our Sheriff’s finances, then his numbers would sky rocket!

The fact that our Sheriff takes in prisoners from out of county appears to be a positive impact for the bottom line, but at what cost?  Do you think Fulton County is sending their wayward Boy Scouts?  I believe they are sending us their hardened criminals; the ones that would most likely assault a deputy or other inmate (who may be a county resident).  This drives up our legal fees and sticks us with the problem considering that the criminal then becomes a Hall County problem.  Besides, don’t you think if it were profitable, that Fulton County would just build their own jail?  They know it cheaper to send their problems up to Hall County (and to think the Chairman doesn’t want Atlanta trash, but will take their prisoners all day long).

The fight appears to be going more and more public.  It looks like the Sheriff wants to defend his legacy (the new jail) at the expense of the taxpayers.

Hugh Hall County Akston

  7 comments for “Legal Organ used to Screw Tax Payers?

  1. Slipknot
    June 1, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    As Tom said last Friday on WDUN when asked what the SO had contributed in the way of cutbacks, the SO had submitted $125,000 and 2 positions for cuts. Considering he gets about ~30% of the total budget, I would say he isn’t playing ball.

    Would someone ask him about the supposed overtime they pay in a regular and massive way? I thought overtime was an occasional-use item, and not a steady payroll line item. I’m not trying to be difficult, just asking for a straight answer/explanation.

    • Hugh Akston
      June 9, 2011 at 3:48 pm

      Rumor has it that one of the commissioners had 400 copies of the Sheriff’s budget printed to be handed out at the public hearing on the budget

  2. NotFromTheseParts
    June 1, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    One flaw I see in all of this is the original reason the jail was built: overcrowding. The county was paying millions a year because we could not house our own prisoners. So if the Sheriff’s Office was forced to move back to the old jail we would be paying out millions again to house prisoners in the new jail we built in order to save money from housing out prisoners. Government at work.

    • Hugh Akston
      June 9, 2011 at 3:50 pm

      That is a great point. The numbers I have seen had the boarding out numbers built into them. I think the issue needs to be looked at. I also think that the jail was sized for future growth.

  3. George T
    June 1, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Hey, where can I get fitted for one of those hats? I’m not sure which club I belong to, but since I have to replace my Thrasher’s hat, an armadillo hat sounds like a good look for me.

    • Hugh Akston
      June 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm

      @GT, you have to have a certain type of physique to pull of the armadillo hat look. If you look good in overalls with no shirt, trucker hat with beer holders on the side, and beat up shoes then you might be able to pull it off. I, however, have not been able to get an armadillo hat with beer holders on the sides; so I do miss that.

  4. old suzzanna
    June 10, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    The 35% of the budget that the sheriff has is the BIG piece of the pie–you know there is waste there. Cuts there would not have enraged people like cutting parks and libraries (a tiny piece of the pie)!!! T Oliver just wants “POWER” to TAX AND SPEND!!! REVOLT TAX PAYERS!!!!

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