COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - A Muscogee County law enforcement office is on the verge of closing after a state bill unanimously passed Thursday.
If the governor signs the bill into law, two Muscogee County law enforcement agencies will become one.
House Bill 967 makes the Muscogee County Sheriff acting Marshal. The idea is to consolidate the two offices, basically eliminating the marshal’s office.
Created in 1831, the Muscogee County Marshal's Office serves a mix of purposes.
“Well, the Marshal’s office provides 31 different types of civil processes, from levies, evictions, garnishments, anything. We carry out the precepts of the Municipal Court,” Muscogee County Marshal Greg Countryman said.
But with one signature from Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, the Marshal’s office will be closed, consolidating with the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office. House Bill 967, which unanimously passed the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate Thursday, will make the sheriff the ex officio marshal of the Municipal Court. All five Columbus representatives sponsored the bill.
"But the driving force behind the thing to get started in this direction was a unanimous vote and discussion by the Columbus City Council," Senator Randy Robertson said.
"We have never not had an incumbent in office, in the Marshal's office, when we were discussing consolidation. This is just a very unique time and it was just one more step in the process of consolidation," Mayor Skip Henderson.
Countryman said Sheriff Donna Tompkins presented the idea to council just two months after he announced his intention to run for sheriff in 2020.
Countryman said he’s happy all 28 employees will be transitioned over, but is sad the idea of consolidation wasn’t voted on by the people.
“This is a very, very sad day and I think that when we discount the voice of the people, it’s always a sad day,” Countryman said.
"A lot of trust is given to the local legislators as to what's best for their community," Robertson said.
Tompkins said she’s welcoming everyone into the sheriff’s office and is looking forward to working with them to provide efficient service to the community.
Again, this consolidation is not final yet. The bill does need to be signed by the governor.