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Hall sheriff requests 20 new patrol cars
Couch also wants server for jail surveillance
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Tax Watch

Hall County Sheriff's Office

Government agencies are presenting their proposals for the fiscal year 2015 budget that begins July 1.

FY 2015 request: $25.7 million total — $14.1 million for jail, $4.8 million for patrol, $4.1 million for operations and $2.7 million for investigations
FY 2014 budget: $25.3 million total — $13.2 million for jail, $8.3 million for patrol, $1.6 million for operations and $2.2 million for investigations
What’s new: Patrol vehicles and a security system for the jail

Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch has requested 20 new patrol cars and a new server to manage surveillance operations at the jail, two of the biggest funding priorities in the 2015 fiscal year, which begins July 1. 

About $640,000 in capital outlay has been budgeted for the operations division to purchase these items. 

The sheriff’s office has four major divisions supported by the general fund. 

But as the department reorganizes staff and shuffles resources to better reflect its mission and goals, Couch said there will be some apparent discrepancies in the budget. For example, the operations budget is expected to more than double while the patrol budget will be cut in half. 

Most of the decreases in the patrol budget are tied to personnel reorganizations. Funding for clothing, training and employment testing will fall significantly as a result. 

Meanwhile, the investigations budget will likely grow by about $400,000. Increases in supplemental pay and benefits, training, operating equipment and building rental costs account for the largest changes. 

Finally, the budget for the jail is expected to increase by close to $900,000, with the biggest increase associated with housing and feeding inmates. 

“Our budget last year was extremely lean, and this year it’s lean as well,” Couch said. 

But the budget does remain a work in progress. Hall County officials will host a public open house May 27 to discuss revenue projections and a proposed general fund budget.

“I truly realize we’re not completely out of the woods,” Couch said. “I think we need to be cautious as we move forward.” 

Couch said he has requested no increases in personnel other than the cost associated with opening the courthouse annex if government officials so choose. 

Couch said he supported a new round of special purpose local option sales taxes, or SPLOST VII, because it will help fund capital expenses, such as turning over the vehicle fleet. 

The new sheriff’s office administrative headquarters, currently in the design stages, would be constructed with about $5 million of SPLOST VI revenues. 

“It’s extremely important,” he said of SPLOST.

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