Superior Court Clerk requests $590K budget increase

Superior Court Clerk requests $590K budget increase

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The fight over money between four elected Columbus officials rages on as they sue the city for what they call inadequate budgets.

Now, one plaintiff is asking for more money to meet "state mandates."

Muscogee County officials Sheriff John Darr, Marshal Greg Countryman, Superior Court Clerk Linda Pierce, and Municipal Court Clerk Vivian Creighton Bishop are waiting for a judge to rule on their suit against the city of Columbus and its top leaders including Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.

Pierce recently sent a letter to council stating in part, "I cannot complete my mandatory duties within the amount of funds appropriated for my office in the approved fiscal year 15 budget."

Pierce is asking for $590,000 to add to her $775,000 budget to meet state mandates and hire more workers.

Pierce's attorney wasn't available for comment but we talked by phone with the attorney for Countryman and Bishop who claims just like Pierce, their clients are penny-pinching to run their perspective offices.

"In the jobs that these folks do, there are costs that really aren't negotiable," said attorney Chris Balch. "It takes so much paper to run the clerk's office. So much gas for the Marshal Deputies to do their jobs."

Balch says the numbers in those perspective budgets don't vary from year to year.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson released this statement:

This is an annual request in that if it seeks a 70 percent increase of $1.3 million for an office just to finish out the remaining 3 months of the fiscal year. We also can see that the clerk is not out of money, but is right on track to meet her budget. Council will review the clerk's request deliberate and vote on any supplement to her Fiscal year 2015 budget.

There is still no word on when Judge Hilton Fuller of Atlanta will make a ruling on the lawsuit. 

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