It's Your Money: Mayor, Sheriff argue firing range costs - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

It's Your Money: Mayor, Sheriff argue firing range costs

Posted: Updated:
COLUMBUS, Ga. -

The Muscogee County firing range was built back in 2011 for use by the Marshal’s Office and Sheriff’s Office. Mayor Tomlinson and Sheriff Darr don't seem to be on the same page when it comes to how much of your money has been put into the center.

The firing range was initially budgeted for $70,000 and last year Sheriff Darr went in front of council to request upgrades to the facility that would bring the cost to $1.7 million dollars. He withdrew that request after council indicated that they would not approve what he was asking for.

Mayor Tomlinson made a reference to the $1.7 million dollar figure to our media partner the Ledger-Enquirer during her response to the FOP’s endorsement of her mayoral challenger Colin Martin.

She claimed the reason she wasn't endorsed was because members of the Sheriff’s Office are part of the leadership with the organization, and their ongoing budget debate with issues such as overtime, healthcare and the firing range has caused tension.

Sheriff Darr says the mayor used the $1.7 million dollar figure to make it seem like the office has spent more than they actually have.

“It’s really unfortunate, but we’re in the time right now where a lot of politics are being played,” Darr told News 3 in response to Tomlinson’s comments.

“It's not political, it's budgetary,” Tomlinson responded. “I didn't say the $1.7 million dollars was spent, I said it was part of an active discussion and it has been an active discussion.”

So if the range didn't cost $1.7 million dollars, how much of your money has gone toward it?

Sheriff Darr says a total of $133,913 has been invested into the firing range over the past 3 years total and of that total only $38,791 were general fund tax dollars with the remaining balance coming from Local Option Sales Tax funds.

Mayor Tomlinson says that the firing range’s cost to date is $355,217, with $89,047 coming out of the general fund and the rest coming from the Local Option Sales Tax. The city’s Financial Department confirmed to News 3 these numbers were accurate.

Sheriff Darr goes in front of council next Tuesday to present his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 15. He tells News 3 he will not request the upgrades to the firing range again, but will tell council that his office continues to be underfunded.

Darr went in front of council in February and told councilors that the costs out of his control are going up. He said inmate healthcare is one of the contributors to the Sheriff's Office budget deficit and he can't control the fluctuating costs of healthcare. He says rising healthcare costs are universal and affecting everyone, including inmates; however he says he can't raise premiums and co-pays to help offset the cost like the city can to employees.

The overall cost of properly housing inmates has also risen and he says he has limited control on the costs required to hold inmates.

“It has nothing to do with mismanagement,” Darr told council in February. “It is just the fact of the matter that when you have an increase, in whatever it is, we have to make adjustments.”

Something he does have control over is paying extra time for employees. Council asked Darr to cut 30% of gap time and overtime, he says he's on track to cut 40%. Council also requested salary savings of about $985,000, but he told council this is unrealistic because it would force him to eliminate about 20 positions. Darr says if this happens, public safety in Muscogee County would be compromised.

In Mayor Tomlinson's recommended Fiscal Year 15 budget, she's proposed a 1.5% cut across all city departments. She says she expects the Sheriff's Office to absorb the cut through un-funding vacancies and salary savings.

Nominate a story idea to be investigated

  • It's Your Money: Story Idea Submission

    Submit your story ideas for our next "It's Your Money" segment.

    * denotes required fields
    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thank you for your submission. WRBL News 3 will review your idea and may get back to your with additional questions.

David Hurst

David Hurst, a graduate of the Univ. of Georgia, focuses on how your tax dollars are being spent.
More>>

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Motorcycle club altercation leaves 2 dead, 2 injured

    Motorcycle club altercation leaves 2 dead, 2 injured

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:11 AM EDT2014-09-02 11:11:25 GMT
    Two victims were shot in the chest and died. Two other people had non-life-threatening injuries and are expected to survive, said police.
    Two victims were shot in the chest and died. Two other people had non-life-threatening injuries and are expected to survive, said police.
  • New Details: Columbus man dies after being run over by own car

    New Details: Columbus man dies after being run over by own car

    Monday, September 1 2014 9:46 PM EDT2014-09-02 01:46:27 GMT
    Flowers were left at the scene where 29-year-old Anthony Williams died early Sunday morning after police say he was run over by his car.The crash happened at Chase Homes on 1st Avenue. Many residents say they could hear the crash from inside their home.“You heard the loud boom and there was a crash, when I came over here he was just laying on the ground,” said Selena Ross.Police say initially they responded to a call late Saturday night about a pedestrian being run over by a car. After talkin...
    Flowers were left at the scene where 29-year-old Anthony Williams died early Sunday morning after police say he was run over by his car.The crash happened at Chase Homes on 1st Avenue. Many residents say they could hear the crash from inside their home.“You heard the loud boom and there was a crash, when I came over here he was just laying on the ground,” said Selena Ross.Police say initially they responded to a call late Saturday night about a pedestrian being run over by a car. After talkin...
  • PHOTOS: August 2014 Mugshots

    PHOTOS: August 2014 Mugshots

    Friday, August 15 2014 3:29 PM EDT2014-08-15 19:29:55 GMT
    Mugshots from across central Alabama from August 2014.
    Mugshots from across central Alabama from August 2014.
Watch Live Watch Live Religious services
  • It's Your MoneyMore>>

  • Special report: "The No-bid Deal"

    Special report: "The No-bid Deal"

    Dec 19, 2013 04:11 PM2014-09-02 16:06:21 GMT
    News 3 looks into the Muscogee County School District's 60-year, no-bid deal with the Hatcher, Stubbs Law Firm.
    News 3 looks into the Muscogee County School District's 60-year, no-bid deal with the Hatcher, Stubbs Law Firm.
  • Georgia Transportation group learns from Columbus TSPLOST

    Georgia Transportation group learns from Columbus TSPLOST

    Monday, August 18 2014 6:30 PM EDT2014-08-18 22:30:55 GMT
    List of all eight TSPLOST projectsList of all eight TSPLOST projects
    The Georgia Joint Study Committee on Critical Transportation Infrastructure Funding came to Columbus Monday to learnhow local tax dollars are being used. The group is made up of 13 state legislators and transportation gurus, and their main goal is to find out how best to save the state money while also improving mobility. Columbus is the second stop on the committee's tour of the state.The focus of the meeting was how the TSPLOSTpenny-tax is funneling $300 million intothe city's infrastructur...
    The Georgia Joint Study Committee on Critical Transportation Infrastructure Funding came to Columbus Monday to learnhow local tax dollars are being used. The group is made up of 13 state legislators and transportation gurus, and their main goal is to find out how best to save the state money while also improving mobility. Columbus is the second stop on the committee's tour of the state.The focus of the meeting was how the TSPLOSTpenny-tax is funneling $300 million intothe city's infrastructur...
  • Crude prices fall

    Crude prices fall

    Tuesday, December 10 2013 7:22 AM EST2013-12-10 12:22:00 GMT
    The cost for a barrel of oil fell last week for the sixth week in a row and remains below $95 a barrel. Although crude prices moved lower, retail gas prices remained relatively flat from the week prior.
    The cost for a barrel of oil fell last week for the sixth week in a row.
Powered by WorldNow

1732 Valley View Dr.
Birmingham, AL 35209

Telephone: 205.933.1313
Fax: 205.323.3314
Email: newstips@alabamas13.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.