Tight Budget Means Tough Choices in Lowndes County

Commissioners are working with the Sheriff's Office to find a middle ground, but it may require some tough choices.

Leaders with the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office say they need money for new equipment and new deputies in the new budget, but because of low tax revenue, the Lowndes County Commission says some of the requests may go unfunded, including new deputies.

CAPT J.D. Yeager with the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office says, "If I get five new positions, I can make it work, I think we'll have to do some rearranging and I'm gonna have to have to take away from some areas to do. As long as we don't go lower than that, I think we'll be okay this year."

For many years, the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office generated enough money for cars and other equipment through interstate drug busts, but the drug business has slowed significantly.

CAPT Yeager says this has been the most difficult budget he's ever had to put together. County leaders say they understand, but they're trying to balance the needs of several agencies throughout the county.

Joe Pritchard, Lowndes County Manager, says, "The difficulty of balancing the needs with the money that's available is very, very difficult, and the county commissioners are looking at trying to do that from a standpoint of not increasing the mileage rate."

Yeager adds, "I'm a taxpayer too. I'm willing to pay it and I believe a majority of people are."

The two sides still have a few weeks to reach a conclusion on the new budget. If the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office doesn't get its full budget request, some staffing adjustments will be made to fill the needs short-term.