Columbus city budget discussions recommend changes to recorder's court

Columbus Recorder's Court. (Source: WTVM File)
Columbus Recorder's Court. (Source: WTVM File)

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The latest round of budget reviews lasted several hours, even making its way into the regular meeting.

Now, Columbus city councilors may have to look for creative ways to include Recorder's Court in the 2018 budget.

The very first major item on Tuesday evening's agenda was an update on a city audit into recorders court.

The city's internal auditor, John Redmond, read off the latest findings on recorders court finances. His projections show the court will earn $400,000 less in revenue in 2017.

A proposal from City Manager Isaiah Hugley's office suggests council add stability to recorder's court by hiring a full-time senior judge and three-part time judges.

That, however, means the city would have to set aside salary money in their working budget. Some councilors voiced their concerns in creating a full-time position

"If it's possible to get away with our case load with two part-time [judges]," councilor Berry "Skip" Henderson said, "what would that look like? What would the impact be, because a full-time judge, we've got benefits we've got to roll into the compensation package."

Other council members, like Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, acknowledging stability issues in recorder's court need to be addressed.

"We have seen a sharp decline in recorders court probably because of some of the prolonged absences of some of the judges, due to health, surgery reasons... and just not having a set structure," Tomlinson said.

Later in the meeting, councilors asked for a figure on what a full-time judge's salary would look like; Hugley's office estimates it may fall in the $120,000 range.

Other possible reasons for the loss in revenue for recorder's court, according to Redmond, could be the changes in judges, an increase in public defenders, and a decrease in the number of cases.

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