Strong words from the marshal during budget review

Strong words from the marshal during budget review

COLUMBUS,GA- (WTVM) The budget review committee, made up of Columbus City Council members, got an earful Tuesday as elected officials over three departments made their appeals.

Municipal Court Clerk Vivian Creighton Bishop, Sheriff John Darr and Marshal Greg Countryman each told the board why the mayor's plan to remove more than a dozen positions from their departments combined would be detrimental.

Countryman called the mayor's plan a "death threat" and asked the six deputies in his department that would be reassigned to the Columbus Police Department with first right of refusal, according to the mayor, to join him at the podium.

"These are the faces that you see out there that handle the 5,000 evictions; that handle the 11,000 dispossessory warrants, that handle the criminal warrants, the suits, the garnishments," Countryman said.

The 26-year law enforcement veteran then asked those six deputies to sit down and that left two deputies standing.  He added they would have to handle the workload if the mayor's proposed 2016 budget is approved.

"If six deputies were taken away from the marshal's office, then the ten day wait for evictions is gone out the window. It goes up to three months," Countryman explained

Mayor Tomlinson said her plan would eliminate "duplicative services" between Columbus' three law enforcement agencies.  The proposal calls for eight of the sheriff's investigators, three of the Sheriff's trainees to be moved to the police department while the marshal's office would lose six deputies.

"I think it was a really good discussion, we have to remember, it is the council who makes the ultimate decision after all, and so they got a lot of great information," Mayor Tomlinson said.

Mayor Tomlinson continued, "A lot of confusion was cleared up like, no marshal deputy will lose a job."

Countryman also said he's not so sure the deputies would definitely have a job.

"If someone wants a lateral transfer to the marshal's office, I can tell that person, 'no' if I don't like something that I see in that person's file," Countryman said.

Councilor Judy Thomas says that moving those eight positions would not cost any additional money could be untrue. This is because when you consider those eight deputies you will need new cars and new uniforms in the police department.

During her presentation, Bishop also asked for $90,000 to be put back in her budget. The difference between Bishop's and the mayor's proposals for 2016.

"It does not allow me to do the duties that are mandated by law for me to do. Of course, if I don't carry out those duties, I have to answer to a higher authority, other than the constituents who elected me to serve in this office, said Bishop."

Sheriff John Darr told News Leader 9 the move would deal a major blow to his department as well.

"The investigator today would be doing an investigation on the jail and next week, he'll be doing an investigation that one of the judges asked him to do," Darr said.

The city council will vote on the mayor's proposal next Tuesday at 9 a.m. in council chambers.

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