Internal audit shows former sheriff Darr's administration $13M over budget

Internal audit shows former sheriff Darr overran budget
Updated: Mar. 15, 2017 at 8:30 PM EDT
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Columbus, GA (WTVM) -  While Donna Tompkins, the new Muscogee County Sheriff, was settling into her position, city auditors were already combing through the department's finances, under the leadership of former Sheriff John Darr.

The results? $13 million over budget within eight years. Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson says she had urged then-sheriff Darr to hire someone to look over finances.

"We had been requesting since at least 2014 that the sheriff hire someone in finance and he just kept rejecting it," she said. 

Tompkins will follow that recommendation, appointing Major Joe McCrea to help her keep the finances under control.  

McCrea worked with Darr's predecessor- former Sheriff Ralph Johnson - to help keep a balanced budget during the administration's eight-year term. 

"The key to this is going to be the communication with the mayor, the city manager, and the city council," McCrea said, "about our needs and how we can be good stewards of taxpayer money."

In 2014, Darr filed a lawsuit against the city government, citing inadequate operating funds.

The audit found Darr's administration overspent in several areas including $2.9 million for operations, $3.4 million for jail detentions and another $3.8 million for medical expenses. 

Tomlinson said both her and Tompkins' offices are making progress on this year's budget. She also said whatever the budget result is for the fiscal year 2017, Tompkins would only partially impact it, as she was sworn in with the current budget in effect. 

"Already I can tell you that Sheriff Tompkins and her staff that's involved with finance have just, in a very short period of time, done some pretty remarkable and innovative things," she said.

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