COVINGTON, Ga. – Sheriff Ezell Brown called on the Newton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) to consider raising taxes in order to adequately fund public safety at Wednesday night’s BOC budget work session.
“I’m not a proponent of raising taxes by any means,” he said. “But I’m willing to pay to ensure that the citizens of this county get the service that they need.”
He also called on commissioners to live up to their campaign promises to support law enforcement.
“You campaigned that you were going to support law enforcement, you were going to support public safety. I urge each and every last one of you, give the citizens what they deserve, give the citizens what they need. Give the employees what they need.”
Saying that the jail is the county’s largest single liability, Brown told commissioners that low pay is impacting his ability to retain deputies. He said that his office is spending $1 million in overtime.
“We have employees leaving my office, 3 to 5 a month, sometimes 3 a week,” he said. ”Not because of the conditions, not because of morale. It’s simply because of the pay.”
“I can stand here and go on and on telling you about our needs, but I can assure you, not one of you can work under the conditions that we’re currently working under,” he said.
Newton County Clerk of Courts Linda Hays, who said her office is also understaffed, agreed with Brown.
“I have to staff the courtroom every time court is in session. We have court every day. Sometimes we have three courtrooms going. The sheriff has to staff every courtroom. We have no choice,” she said.
Hays said her budget has been the same since 2009.
“I would just echo the sheriff’s words and encourage you please, keep your promises. Do something for our employees. Help us do our jobs better.”
Commissioners said that taking care of employees is a top priority.
The BOC will hold its last scheduled budget work session Wednesday, May 24 at 6:00 p.m. at the Newton County Historic Courthouse.